coupled with the number of people being held in jail awaiting trial
has led to a crisis
in which it is not possible
for every defendant who wants a day in court to get one.
So, the courts need a way to keep the trials from taking place.
By imprisoning poor people who cannot put up money for bail,
the system uses the threat or reality of extended imprisonment
to extract guilty pleas, even from people who are innocent
or have other valid defenses.
Not able to get a timely trial, they have only one option – plead guilty.
It is a Hobson’s choice, more so even than many of the defendants realize,
because the guilty please have serious collateral consequences
they may not even be aware of and which stay with them for the rest of their lives.
But, pleading guilty is what they do by the thousands, every day, all over America.”
Lawyer, Policy Maker, Law Professor, Co-Founder – New Israel Fund, Author (Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America),
Former United States–Japan Leadership Program Fellow, Former J. Skelly Wright Memorial Fellow at Yale Law School, Co-Founder – Parents United