Just City

Addressing Racial Disparities in Money-Bail and Pretrial Detention by Democratizing Data

MEMPHIS AND SHELBY COUNTY, TN

The criminal justice system disproportionately affects Black people, who are arrested, incarcerated, and sentenced at higher rates because of racially biased practices and overpolicing. Pretrial detention, even for a few days, can have devastating consequences for people, including the loss of jobs, homes, and custody of children. Evidence also suggests that people who spend time in pretrial detention are at greater risk of returning to the criminal justice system, which imposes costs on and harms their communities.

With Catalyst Grant funding, Just City, in partnership with Innovate Memphis, will launch a data stewards program with students from local universities. The team will construct a comprehensive historical dataset using a sustainable process for periodically extracting data on bail amounts, offenses, and demographics from the Shelby County Jail and other data available from the county criminal court website. In addition, Just City will build a public-facing data dashboard using publicly accessible data to democratize data and provide transparency around the racial disparities in Shelby County’s criminal legal system.