This weekend, only because I’m a nerd, I decided to watch one of my favorite TED talks (again). In 2012, Civil Rights Advocate Bryan Stevenson delivered an impactful lecture on America’s criminal justice system. If you ever have the time, I suggest you give it a watch.
I had the unique pleasure of hearing Bryan speak at a book signing here in Charlotte and one quote that always stuck out to me was how not only race, but money and the lack thereof shapes outcomes. “We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes; and yet, we seem to be very comfortable.”
In 2016, as an example, 18% of inmates in Mecklenburg County were imprisoned for failure to pay fines or court costs. Those who could not afford bail stayed in jail for an average of 4 days. That’s 4 days of incarceration before a person is convicted or even has a substantive court date. Research has shown that one’s ability to pay does not reduce the chances for failure to appear or risk to commit another crime – so the “pay or stay” model doesn’t seem to advance a worthy objective.
The dollars don’t make sense either. In 2014, Mecklenburg County spent $113 million dollars on its local jail, roughly $166 dollars a day per inmate.
Many County leaders are not comfortable with wealth shaping judicial outcomes, and are attempting to shift how we look at bail and other forms of monetary punishment. In October, Mecklenburg County was awarded a $2 million-dollar grant aimed at reducing its incarcerated population. The grant came from the John D and Catherin T, MacArthur Foundation, with the goal of reducing our jail population by 13%.
To achieve its reduction goal, the County looking to implement the following programs:
For more information on disparities in the justice system and County policies, contact Parton & Associates, PLLC.
Drafted by Micheal L. Littlejohn, Edited by Corey V. Parton
Earlier this week, Mecklenburg County became the latest victim of a ransomware attack that resulted in a shutdown of the County’s IT systems. The Hackers demanded $23,000 in Bitcoin in exchange for an encryption key that would release the files. The County was left with the choice of either paying the ransom and restoring their usual systems, or resorting to old fashioned paper systems. As the deadline passed to meet the Hacker’s demands, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio announced she will not pay criminals and that the County would rebuild its system applications and restore files and data from backups. Some of Parton & Associates Clients may be impacted by interruptions in the following County services:
Criminal Justice Services
Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
Community Support Services
Mecklenburg County has been providing updates on their website at the following link: http://bit.ly/2BY05fK
Drafted by Attorneys Micheal L. Littlejohn & Corey V. Parton
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