pre-trial detention rates—that is, the percentage of people who serve time while awaiting trial—have tripled nationwide since 1970. Still, as urban pre-trial detention rates have dropped precipitously, they’ve risen the most in the country’s rural counties with fewer than 250,000 residents. Between 1970 and 2013, rural pre-trial detention rates grew some 436 percent ... Since 1970, the rate of people from other jurisdictions serving time in rural jails has grown 888 percent.

...gang members facing felony gun charges often had little problem coming up with the cash to get out of jail, while nonviolent thieves and others languished behind bars, unable to post much lower bonds. And prosecutors rarely ask where the money came from. By contrast, in major drug cases, they routinely request hearings to determine the source of bail money.

the odds of non-Hispanic white youths using cocaine were 30 times higher than African Americans ... the findings of the study highlight the incongruity between drug use and incarceration rates along racial lines. According to estimated figures from the U.S. Department of Justice, of the males born in 2001, one in three African Americans and one in six Hispanics will be incarcerated at some point during their lifetimes. By contrast for Caucasians, that number is one in 17.

CivicScape claims to not use race or ethnic data to make predictions, although it is aware of other indirect indicators of race that could bias its software. The software also filters out low-level drug crimes, which have been found to be heavily biased against African Americans. While this startup might be the first to publicly reveal the inner machinations of its algorithm and data practices, it’s not an assurance that predictive policing can be made fair and transparent across the board.

Pay-to-stay jail assignments make up only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of inmates sent to detention centers in Southern California each year. But allowing some defendants to avoid the region’s notoriously dangerous county jails has long rankled some in law enforcement who believe it runs counter to the spirit of equal justice ... A racial breakdown of pay-to-stay participants could not be determined because complete data were unavailable.

The strongest predictor of pretrial failure largely has to do with someone's prior conduct... The algorithm uses conviction records instead of arrest records, which are less likely to tip the scales against individuals in heavily policed neighborhoods—studies have found that the arrest rate for black people can be up to ten times higher than for non-blacks.

On any given day, most inmates in California jails have not yet been convicted of a crime. About 63 percent are being held awaiting trial, according to data collected by the Board of State and Community Corrections, an average of nearly 47,000 people. Federal statistics on the largest urban counties show that from 2000 to 2009, California kept unsentenced felony defendants in jail at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the country.

In 2015, New Orleans spent roughly $6.4 million detaining people who were jailed only because they couldn’t pay bills imposed upon them by the city’s criminal-justice system, according to the the Vera Institute of Justice, which advocates for reducing incarceration rates. The city collected just $4.5 million from criminal defendants, most of whom are black and many of whom are poor. So the system cost the city a net total of $1.9 million — about 0.3 percent of its overall budget.

California voters in November legalized marijuana, approved a plan to reduce the prison population and enacted gun controls. But on one key issue — the death penalty — the liberal tide shifted. Voters rejected a measure to ban capital punishment and instead approved an initiative intended to hasten executions ...The measure requires appeals to be decided within five years of sentencing. It can now take a decade or longer for a condemned inmate to have his or her automatic appeal decided

Federal intervention has been one of the few effective means of addressing the racial inequities and civil-rights violations in New York State prisons. It has worked at Elmira for housing and jobs and has been somewhat successful in holding officers accountable for the worst excesses of brutality and discrimination.