Lost in the System – Fault Lines
Speedy justice and the right-to-counsel are the backbone of the US 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, experience the trauma of incarceration, incur debts, and may plead guilty – even when 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.