Federal judges are routinely violating the pretrial rights of people charged with crimes, according to a recent report. Additionally, the report found that people of color are disproportionately affected by this practice.
How are federal courts allegedly violating people’s rights and why are people of color more affected?
Unlawful pretrial detentions
Pretrial incarceration rates increased from 29% to 75% after the enactment of the Bail Reform Act of 1984. Researchers found that judges are routinely ignoring laws that protect people from pretrial imprisonment because they can not afford to pay bail.
This practice disproportionately affects people of color and other groups who tend to have low incomes, such as undocumented immigrants and marginalized communities. 95% of the people courts imposed cash bail on were people of color.
Additionally, the report found that federal judges were not following laws that require people who can not afford legal representation to have court-appointed counsel. Federal judges jailed defendants in 81% of cases in the study without the prosecution citing any legal basis.
The report also found that federal judges regularly apply the presumption of detention statute in drug cases incorrectly, resulting in additional unlawful detentions. Federal judges are unlawfully detaining black defendants at twice the rate of white defendants.
What to do if you cannot afford bail
If you are facing pretrial imprisonment because you cannot afford bail it is important to assert your right to have an attorney present at your bail hearing. An attorney can help you make an argument that bail is not appropriate in your case.
Pretrial imprisonment can have a serious impact on your life. It is important to be aware of your pretrial rights when facing criminal charges.