Fault Lines investigates the practice of pretrial detention—and how courts in US counties are failing their poor citizens
Speedy justice and the right-to-counsel are the backbone of America’s criminal justice system. But a majority of the men and women locked up in America’s 3,000 jails are there before even having a trial.
Many are locked up only because they are too poor to afford bail. They are legally innocent, but find themselves waiting for their day in court behind bars.
In the meantime, they are separated from their families, may lose their jobs or their homes, incur debts and experience the trauma of incarceration. As a result, they may plead guilty—even when they’re innocent—just to get out of jail. With nearly 12 million jail admissions a year, courts are backlogged and public defender systems across the country are overloaded.
Fault Lines travels to New York, Mississippi and California to investigate pretrial justice at the county level and incarceration before conviction.
Executive Producer: Mathieu Skene, Senior Producers: Hanaan Sarhan, Laila Al-Arian @LailaAlarian, Correspondent: Sebastian Walker @sebwalker, Producer: Paul Abowd @paulabowd, Director of Photography: Singeli Agnew @singeli, Editor: Warwick Meade @warwickmeade, Fixers: Laura Moscoso, Dalila Rodriguez Saavedra, Additional Photography: Nicole Salazar @nicoleasalazar, Paul Abowd, Production Manager: Dana Merwin @dana_merwin, Digital Producer: Nikhil Swaminathan @sw4mi, Production Assistance: Zahra Rasool @RXahra, Malak Habbak
More from this Episode
Fault Lines speaks to Marcus D. Gordon, a judge accused of violating the rights of indigent defendants
Pretrial detention is a well-defined problem with a relatively simple solution, according to Cherise Fanno Burdeen
In Fresno County, 64 advocates for the indigent handle over 33,000 cases each year
More on Pretrial Detention
New bipartisan bill offers the president a chance to start fixing our criminal justice system
Plan mirrors nationwide trend and comes after a death and suicide linked to pretrial detention
Mourners, activists decry the suicide of Browder, who was held at Rikers without a trial and abused by guards