When you can’t jail people on misdemeanors, “right there, the misdemeanor population of the jail is reduced substantially,” Coffin said. The same goes for all but only the worst of felonies, too.
Instead of going to jail following arrest, people charged with those crimes are now being given tickets and never go into police custody.
But that might not mean what you’d expect: there are not 100 accused criminals walking around who would have previously been jailed until trial. Here’s why:
Under the old rules, a large number of inmates were in jail for only very short periods of time, typically one to three days following arrest. After that, many accused inmates were either released by a judge or able to make bail. So those accused criminals were free for most of the criminal case under the old system, too.
In fact, roughly half of the jail’s inmates, in the past, were held only one to three days before release. That means that people accused of crimes have long been walking free. Now, they simply avoid being jailed in the first place.
“Only” one to three days.
One to three days being one to three days you’ve got to arrange childcare (difficult to do from a cell) and someone to fill in for you at work or you just miss work entirely or both, which if you’re hourly is the majority of a week’s wages, which is rent or groceries or some unholy medical bill for, like, a fever of 104 or getting hit by a car.
One to three days is enough to send most financially comfortable families into some kind of chaos wherein all the spinning plates come crashing down, like don’t let’s even talk about how if you’re not home for three days nobody feeds grandma or takes the kids to school with their hair brushed and their coats zipped.
There are a lot of people carping in the comments about “criminals” getting put back out onto the streets and I hate to break it to you but nobody’s a criminal til they’re convicted and if they’re not, now you’ve just ruined their lives for being arrested. We say all this “innocent until proven guilty” crap and that doesn’t actually mean anything if after you’re exonerated you’re unemployed, homeless and your kids were taken away.