A new report released by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana shows that after a 10.3 percent increase, Louisiana’s pretrial incarceration rate is now three times the national average and the highest of any state on record since 1970. The study, based on an analysis of thousands of jail records, found that 57 percent of people in jail had been arrested for non-violent offenses and that pretrial incarceration costs Louisiana taxpayers nearly $290 million per year. On average, the people represented in the study had been held behind bars for 5 and a half months – without trial or conviction
The report comes nearly three years after Louisiana adopted reforms, including earlier release of some non-violent offenders, that dropped its population of convicts held by the state and, for a time, reduced the state’s incarceration rate from the highest in the nation.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana report says more than 15,000 people are jailed pre-trial in Louisiana on any given day and it states that for every 100,000 Louisiana residents ages 15 to 64, there are 502 people jailed while awaiting trial.
The organization is calling for multiple reforms to reduce the pre-trial lockup rate, including bail reform where the median bail for those jailed in the low-income state is $24,000.