Pandemic Keeps L.A. Pretrial Detainees Locked Up

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Despite the high numbers of COVID-19 cases, people are spending more time in LA County jails than before the pandemic, reports The Appeal.  According to a UCLA School of Law report, 41 percent of people held pretrial were in jail for six months or longer as of Sept. 10. Before the pandemic, in January 2020, that figure was 35 percent.  Two issues in particular have contributed to more people sitting in jail awaiting trial during the pandemic.

First, the former presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Kevin C. Brazile, issued nearly a dozen orders in 2020,  which delayed trials from March through September and created a backlog of at least 7,000 criminal cases. Second, the failure of the sheriff’s department to minimize exposure in the jails has caused people to be quarantined, leading to people missing court dates and having difficulty getting access to counsel, which often lead to delays in release.  This prolonged detention heavily affects Black and Latinx communities, who make up the largest percentage of the jail population and who often face unaffordable and higher bail amounts than their white counterparts. While 34 percent of the white jail population was incarcerated pretrial for six months or longer, that figure was 40 percent for Latinx people and 44 percent for Black people, according to our data analysis.

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