Are Too Many People Being Sent to Allegheny County Jail? | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys

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Are Too Many People Being Sent to Allegheny County Jail?

Incarceration rates have risen to unsustainable levels across the United States, and it seems that Allegheny County is not exempt from this trend. According to a news story published last November, the incarceration rate in Allegheny County Jail is rising because larger numbers of individuals are being imprisoned before conviction. These are people who are either waiting for trial or have not paid bail.

According to a report by the Prison Policy Initiative, there are an enormous number of people who go in and out of prison nationwide because most people jailed have not been convicted. Some have been arrested and are waiting to make bail in a matter of time, and others are too poor to make bail and must remain in jail until their trial. Of the 722,000 people in local jails at any given moment, over 400,000 belong in the category of people jailed without convictions, and the remainder is serving time for minor offenses like misdemeanors.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with a crime in the Pittsburgh area, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and ensure you are treated fairly by law enforcement. Contact the Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 for help immediately.

Results of University of Pittsburgh Study on Allegheny County Incarceration

The Criminal Justice Task Force from the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics released a report finding that Allegheny County Jail is increasingly filled with people who have not been convicted. Approximately 81 percent of people in the county jail are not convicted and are simply waiting for a trial or hearing. More specifically:

  • 32 percent are detained waiting for a trial for a new crime or waiting for a violation hearing because that new crime violates a current probation sentence
  • 24 percent are waiting for trial
  • 17 percent are simply waiting for transport to another county or to federal or state prison
  • 8 percent are detained due to a technical violation of probation and require a hearing for that violation.

Comparatively, the national average for the population of people in local jails who are not convicted is at 62 percent.

The Need for Effective Criminal Defense During Pre-trial Proceedings

The University of Pittsburgh study also found that the lack of effective and consistent criminal defense counsel during the preliminary arraignment stage may be resulting in increased incarceration rates. District judges reach decisions during the preliminary arraignment on whether a defendant can be released to the community while waiting for trial or if a defendant will receive bail.

Having an effective defense counsel who will advocate for a defendant is crucial to ensure that district judges appropriately consider risk assessment tools that may mitigate the length of any jail time. The study found that within Allegheny County, only 63 percent of all pretrial recommendations made using risk assessment tools were followed in the pretrial arraignment decision by the district judge, which may mean that an individual who has been recommended for release into the community pending trial will be incarcerated instead. Additionally, a defense attorney can ensure that the booking process is no longer than necessary and that a charged individual gets the opportunity to appear before a district judge as quickly as possible.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in the Pittsburgh area, you need to talk to an experienced and compassionate Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney immediately. The attorneys at the Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have years of combined experience in criminal defense and understand the importance of effective advocacy at the pre-trial stages for mitigating any unnecessary jail time.

Call us today at (412) 281-2146 for a free, initial consultation so we can take steps to help you protect your rights.