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Stateside Podcast: COVID delays lead to increased pre-trial jail time in Wayne County

A graph showing the different times people wait in jail on a time line. Under six months it reads "ideal length according to michigan court rules". Under 18 months, it reads "deadline under new bill before Michigan legislature". Under 25 months, it reads "the median length of lock up for the 120 people" and under 47 months, it reads " the longest time a person has waited in jail of the 120 people"

The pandemic has been a time of uncertainty for a lot of us. If that’s the case for people outside jail walls, it’s doubly so for those inside.

Early on in the pandemic, stopping the spread of COVID-19 in jail was a huge concern. In Wayne County, the jail population dropped 40% as people were released on electronic monitors, posted bail, or had their charges dismissed. But not everyone got sent home.

And for the past two years, many of those remaining in jail have seen their court dates delayed by closures in the county’s Third Circuit Court due to COVID restrictions and short-staffing.

Michigan Radio reporters Beenish Ahmed and Nisa Khan found that at least 120 people have spent 18 months or more in the Wayne County jail system, without a conviction or even a trial.

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April Van Buren is a producer for Stateside. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.