On June 6, 2018, Civil Rights Corps filed a lawsuit in Tulsa, Oklahoma, challenging Tulsa County’s unconstitutional wealth-based pretrial detention system. Tulsa County uses a secured money bail schedule to determine conditions of release for almost every person arrested in Tulsa County. The process is as straightforward as it is unjust: upon arrest, a person is given a money bail amount that corresponds to the charges she is booked on; if she can pay the amount, she is released. If she cannot pay the amount, she is jailed. There is no inquiry into or consideration of her ability to pay the money-bail amount. And if she cannot pay, she is jailed for at least a week, before she is able to see a judge.
The results are devastating. More than 62 percent of—over 1,500—people incarcerated in the Tulsa County Jail on an average day are awaiting trial—they have not been convicted of a crime and are presumptively innocent. Tulsa County’s pretrial detention rate is 83 percent higher than the national average. Low-income individuals, including women and people of color who are more likely to be poor, bear the brunt of Tulsa County’s unconstitutional pretrial detention system.
We bring this case alongside Still She Rises, a Tulsa-based holistic defense project that represents mothers in the criminal and child welfare systems.