According to the U.S. Department of justice, 10 million people are jailed each year for both minor and major infractions.
Two thirds, about 750,000 of those who are incarcerated on any given day end up behind bars sometimes as long as a year, without being convicted because they cannot afford bail, some as little as $50.
As you ponder these statistics, you might think, "So what, that's their problem, they should not have gotten themselves arrested in the first place." But these men and women are innocent until proven guilty under the protection of the constitution, and it cost tax payer's billions every year to house them. Most are charged with petty, non violent crimes.
This is a little known criminal justice crisis that effects millions of low income American's a year who languish behind bars in city and county jails, without having been convicted of a crime.
18 year old Perchelle Richardson was arrested in her downtown New Orleans neighborhood for breaking into a neighbors car and stealing their i phone.
Despite being a High School student with no criminal record, Ms. Richardson had to spend 51 days in jail, missing over a month if school, until she got her day in court, because her family could not afford to pay her $200 bail. Her public defenders unsuccessfully asked the judge to release her without a court fee and after that could do little beyond bringing her school worksheets, which she craved, she says, because they helped to break her boredom.
The majority of us have had some youthful indiscretions. Some of us have gotten caught, and some of us haven't. While I do believe that each and every mistake should serve as a cautionary tale, for those among us who live in poverty, the costs of making bad decisions and bad choices can be much higher.