Creating a More Equitable Process for Determining Bail
The incarceration rate in St. Louis is almost three times the state-wide rate in Missouri. In response to this disparity, the city set a goal of reducing the jail population by 40 percent over five years. The Department of Public Safety enlisted FUSE executive fellow Wilford Pinkney Jr. to work specifically on comprehensive bail reform, a key part of its decarceration efforts. Wilford analyzed data from multiple entities, conducted a preliminary review of process flows, and convened discussions across sectors. Drawing on this research, he defined opportunities to improve efficiency, strengthen coordination, and identity pathways for appropriate diversion from the criminal justice system. For example, Wilford developed a framework for pretrial reform that takes into account the social determinants that make justice-system involvement more likely, such as poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. He also helped coordinate access to behavioral health services for incarcerated individuals. These efforts are laying the groundwork for St. Louis to appropriately divert people from overcrowded jails and into support services that can help keep them out of the justice system.