Black people face higher bail bonds in Douglas County, report shows; CJCC to discuss

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On average, Black people must pay higher surety bond amounts than people of other races to be released from the Douglas County jail, according to a report in the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s Tuesday meeting agenda. 

Also, Black people and Native American people spend an average of three days longer in jail for pretrial bookings than white people, the report says.

The CJCC will get a presentation of the full report on Tuesday from data analyst Matt Cravens, who compiled information on bonds set in Lawrence, Baldwin City and Eudora municipal courts, plus the Douglas County District Court. Municipal courts handle ordinance violations and lower-severity crimes that occur within city limits; the district court handles mostly violations of state laws, including felonies and misdemeanors. 

Cravens explained in the report that in surety bonds, defendants contract with a third party, like a bail bond company, to be released from jail. The defendant typically pays about 10% of the amount or a minimum of $150, according to the report.

With no controls in place on case type, gender, age, charge classification, number of bookings over the years and other factors, Black people on average face surety bond amounts that are $400 higher per booking than white people’s in Douglas County District Court cases, the report shows.

With all the controls in place, the difference is about $133; however, the report says that controlling for some of those variables “may underestimate racial disparities because they are influenced by race.”

The report also shows that Hispanic people must pay higher cash-only bonds than white people in municipal court cases, on average.

Other topics on the meeting agenda include an update on indigent defense services, a discussion and presentation on the Douglas County sheriff’s data dashboards, and an update from a listening session held last month by a CJCC workgroup on mobile responses to behavioral health crises. 

The CJCC will meet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 11. Find the meeting at this link; the full agenda is available here.

Previous meetings of the CJCC and more are available on the council’s online hub

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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