Services/Outreach

National Sheriffs’ Conference Votes No on Commercial Bail Bonds Resolution

Pretrial Justice -

By Gilliam County Sheriff Gary Bettencourt, President, Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association
Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, Ada County, Idaho
Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan, City of Newport News, Virginia
Executive Director, Colorado Department of Public Safety Stan Hilkey, former Mesa County Sheriff

(Fort Worth, TX) – Lobbyists for the for-profit bail system hoped the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) would pass a Resolution in 2014 endorsing their industry. It was on the agenda last month at the NSA Summer Conference in Fort Worth. But the NSA “Jail, Detention and Corrections Committee” unanimously voted to oppose the for-profit bail system Resolutions, one of which ended with NSA “…recognizes and endorses the indispensable value of the commercial surety bail system to the criminal justice system.” In 2012, when NSA unanimously voted to recognize the contribution of pretrial services agencies to enhance public safety, it joined a dozen or so other national organizations representing criminal justice system policy makers who are joining together to push for better pretrial outcomes at lower costs to taxpayers.

The for-profit bail system’s lobbying of the NSA started in January during the 2014 NSA Winter Conference in Washington, DC in the Committee’s meeting. PJI Board Chair and Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney (Idaho), former Mesa County (Colorado) Sheriff Stan Hilkey (now Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety), and Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association General Manager Darrell Fuller objected to the Resolutions along with others observing the committee’s deliberations.

As a result, the proposed Resolutions were tabled until last week’s NSA Summer Conference. As the summer conference neared, Sheriffs Raney and Hilkey and GM Darrell Fuller worked with like-minded Sheriffs to build a strong coalition opposed to NSA endorsing the for-profit bail system. Simultaneously, Oregon Sheriffs initiated a more visible campaign against the Resolutions. Text of their email to Summer Conference attendees is below. Oregon, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin are four states that have eliminated their for-profit bail system.

 

 

Dear Sheriff:

 

How would you react if Sheriffs from across a state line came into YOUR state to lobby YOUR state legislature in support of a bill YOU strongly oppose?

 

What would you think if the National Sheriffs’ Association provided written testimony at a legislative hearing in YOUR state in support of a bill that Sheriffs in your state unanimously oppose?

 

It could happen to Oregon Sheriffs.  And we’re asking you to help stop it.

 

During the NSA conference in Texas you may be asked to vote on a Resolution in support of the role played by commercial bail bondsmen. Oregon Sheriffs hope you will oppose the Resolution.

 

Our reason is simple:  Oregon Sheriffs, along with Police Chiefs, District Attorneys, the defense bar and others oppose creating a commercial bail bonds process in Oregon.  We don’t have one.  We don’t want one.

 

All Oregon Sheriffs oppose a commercial bail bonds system in Oregon and we hope you have our back.

 

And, Oregon isn’t the only state in which Sheriffs do not support the commercial bail industry.

 

If a National Sheriffs’ Association Resolution passes, it will certainly be submitted for the record at public hearings in our Capitol Building in Salem, Oregon.  The bail bonds industry will take advantage of the Resolution to show Sheriff’s support for commercial bail bonds despite UNANIMOUS OPPOSITION FROM ALL OREGON SHERIFFS.

 

This is a state issue, not a national issue.  We would never consider coming to your state to support legislation local Sheriffs oppose.  Please don’t let NSA come to Oregon, through a Resolution, to support legislation we oppose.  Thank you.

 

If you have any questions, please call or email.  Thank you for considering our request.

 

Gary Bettencourt, OSSA President, Gilliam County Sheriff, NSA Member (attending conference)
John Bishop, OSSA Vice President, Curry County Sheriff, NSA Member
Brian Wolfe, OSSA Secretary, Malheur County Sheriff, NSA Member
Tom Bergin, Clatsop County Sheriff, NSA Member
Larry Blanton, Deschutes County Sheriff, NSA Member
Jack Crabtree, Yamhill County Sheriff, NSA Member
Jeff Dickerson, Columbia County Sheriff, NSA Member
Dennis Dotson, Lincoln County Sheriff, NSA Member
Rick Eiesland, Wasco County Sheriff, NSA Member
Matt English, Hood River County Sheriff, NSA Member
Pat Garrett, Washington County Sheriff, NSA Member
Gil Gilbertson, Josephine County Sheriff, NSA Member
Dave Glerup, Harney County Sheriff, NSA Member
John Hanlin, Douglas County Sheriff, NSA Member
Jim Hensley, Crook County Sheriff, NSA Member
Chris Humphreys, Wheeler County Sheriff, NSA Member
Scott Jackson, Benton County Sheriff, NSA Member
Brad Lohrey, Sherman County Sheriff, NSA Member
Andy Long, Tillamook County Sheriff, NSA Member (attending conference)
Ken Matlack, Morrow County Sheriff, NSA Member
Phil McDonald, Lake County Sheriff, NSA Member
Jason Myers, Marion County Sheriff, NSA Member
Glenn Palmer, Grant County Sheriff
Boyd Ramussen, Union County Sheriff, NSA Member
Bruce Riley, Linn County Sheriff, NSA Member
Craig Roberts, Clackamas County Sheriff, NSA Member
Steve Rogers, Wallowa County Sheriff, NSA Member
Terry Rowan, Umatilla County Sheriff, NSA Member
Frank Skrah, Klamath County Sheriff, NSA Member
Mitch Southwick, Baker County Sheriff, NSA Member
Dan Staton, Multnomah County Sheriff, NSA Member, MCSA Member
Tom Turner, Lane County Sheriff, NSA Member
Mike Winters, Jackson County Sheriff, NSA Member
Bob Wolfe, Polk County Sheriff, NSA Member
Brian Wolfe, Malheur County Sheriff, NSA Member
Craig Zanni, Coos County Sheriff, NSA Member

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Colorado Continues its Journey Toward Improving Pretrial Justice

Pretrial Justice -

In 2013, Colorado’s pretrial statute was rewritten to make the law more consistent with Supreme Court law, recent advances in pretrial research, and national best practice standards. Last week, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB 14-212, a bill that cleans up and clarifies portions of the statute as well as rectifies some non-conforming language. Among other things, the new bill removed language that led a few judges in some Colorado courts to believe that charge-based money bond schedules were still lawful in Colorado. The new language clarifies that any bond schedule must include consideration of each defendant’s individual pretrial risk and that any secured amounts of bond money (through cash or surety bonds) must be both reasonable and necessary to assure the public’s safety and the defendant’s court appearance.

National pretrial legal expert Tim Schnacke, Executive Director of the non-profit Center for Legal and Evidence-Based Practices, revised his comprehensive review of Colorado’s pretrial statute to incorporate the nature and meaning of the new changes. The review can be downloaded here.

In other news, the Jefferson County Bail Project, one of the local projects that paved the way for many of Colorado’s recent statewide pretrial justice improvements—including the new statute—is now described in two publications.

For the first, The Jefferson County Bail Project: Lessons Learned From a Process of Pretrial Change at the Local Level, recounts the process of change that decision-makers went through to design, implement, and evaluate a pilot project testing many of the national best practice pretrial standards. Successes, challenges, and lessons learned are described so that other pretrial stakeholders can benefit from their Jefferson County counterparts’ experience as they undertake local or statewide pretrial justice change.

The second publication, The Jefferson County Bail Project: Impact Study Found Better Cost-Effectiveness for Unsecured Recognizance Bonds Over Cash and Surety Bonds, presents the outcomes of the Project. The study, which used a quasi-experimental design, found that judges who set a high number of secured cash or surety bonds achieve the same public safety and court appearance outcomes as do judges who use high amounts of unsecured recognizance bonds, but did so while expending more local jail resources. Interestingly, this study found the same pattern of results in Jefferson County that a 2013 PJI study found statewide in Colorado, even though the two studies used different methodologies. Both studies have direct implications for judges’ day-to-day decisions about which types of bond are both most effective and most efficient.

 

The Jefferson County Bail Project: Lessons Learned from a Process of Pretrial Change at the Local Level
Jefferson County Bail Project- Lessons Learned - PJI 2014.pdf
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Details Category:PJI Reports Date:June 25, 2014 The Jefferson County Bail Project: Impact Study Found Better Cost-Effectiveness for Unsecured Recognizance Bonds Over Cash and Surety Bonds
Jeffersion County Bail Project- Impact Study - PJI 2014.pdf
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Details Category:PJI Reports Date:June 25, 2014

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Can the Affordable Care Act Reduce Pretrial Detention?

Pretrial Justice -

By Seema Gajwani

 

As a public defender in the District of Columbia I would spend a couple of days a month in the basement courtroom of DC Superior Court handling arraignments. There, newly arrested individuals would come before a judge who would make the critical decision about whether they would be detained in DC Jail pending trial or released under supervision to return for their next court date.

Day in and day out, I would see people come through arraignment court in need of substance abuse or mental health treatment. Actually, it was clear to everyone in the courtroom –  the judge, prosecutor, court clerk, and members of the audience  -  when someone was strung out or mentally ill. What everyone in the courtroom also knew was that there was virtually no way that the court could provide those individuals treatment for their needs immediately.

At that time, almost a decade ago, most of the drug treatment was either substandard or unavailable, and there were long waiting lists at clinics that offered mental health care. Connecting the individual standing before the judge to quality treatment in the community in real time to treat or manage the behavioral health needs that quite likely triggered their involvement in the criminal justice system was an elusive dream. Often, in the eyes of the judge, an untreated drug problem, untreated alcohol addiction, or untreated mental illness made defendants risky to the community and ineligible for release. And so, people were sent to jail.

We know that jailing low and medium-risk people hurts them and makes them more dangerous. Research shows that if you compare two people with the same charged offense and same criminal history, the one who is jailed pretrial will likely get a worse plea offer, a longer sentence, and will be more likely to get rearrested in the future. And, jailing low-risk defendants for even short periods of time destabilizes the very things that make them low-risk, such as a job, child care obligations, and stable housing. With supervision and treatment for behavioral health issues, more low-risk individuals could be kept in the community.

Untreated behavioral health problems are rampant among the 11 million people cycling through America’s 3,300 local jails annually. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately three-quarters of jail inmates are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. And, compared with the general public, people in jails (disproportionately male, of color, and poor) have higher rates of substance abuse disorders, mental illness, and other chronic health conditions. According to recent research, 15 percent of men and 30 percent of women enter jail with disabling mental health conditions.

Jails were not designed to treat these disorders at these rates. Yet, the three largest in-patient psychiatric facilities in the country are LA County Jail, Rikers Island Jail in New York, and Cook County Jail in Chicago. If the court system could access treatment for the underlying behavioral health needs of low-risk defendants at the pretrial decision-making point, perhaps fewer would be detained at the outset.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents the opportunity to test that hypothesis. In many states, the ACA will provide health insurance to millions of poor, childless adults who were previously uncovered. Importantly, the ACA does not cover treatment while incarcerated. But, for the first time, the ACA could provide funding for treatment as an alternative to incarceration for judges to offer instead of jail, before individuals are incarcerated.

Receiving behavioral health care before being incarcerated -especially for low and medium-risk individuals – could reduce their likelihood of getting involved in the criminal justice system in the future. One study showed that substance abuse treatment provided to low-income populations decreased future arrests by up to 33 percent. Such early intervention could reduce incarceration and reduce recidivism, a win-win situation for individuals, victims, and communities.

Treatment as an alternative to pretrial detention could also result in considerable cost savings for counties and states. Medicaid will reimburse counties for the costs of approved treatment for newly covered individuals through the first years of ACA implementation. Those Medicaid funds could save counties the recurring costs of incarceration and jail-provided health care. Early and continued treatment also reduces use of the most expensive public health options – ambulatory and emergency room care. In the long term, reduced pretrial detention can reduce post-conviction incarceration in jails and prisons, leading to cost savings throughout the criminal justice system.

The Affordable Care Act presents an exciting new opportunity to re-envision the intersection of the criminal justice and public health systems, and improve outcomes in both fields. To maximize this opportunity we must tap these possibilities at the very front end of the criminal justice system, at the pretrial decision-making stage. The results could include a significant reduction in jail detention, healthier individuals who are less prone to criminal behavior, and tremendous savings for states and counties. Envisioning a court that can refer individuals to quality treatment as easily as it can detain defendants may no longer be a pipe dream.

 

Seema Gajwani is a Program Officer for the Criminal Justice Program at the Public Welfare Foundation

 

Related resource:

The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act And The Pretrial System - NAPSA 2014
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Pretrial System - NAPSA 2014.pdf
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Details Tags:health, health care, aca Category:Law/Policy Date:April 8, 2014

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Tim Murray Honored by National Association of Drug Court Professionals

Pretrial Justice -

First-Time Ever Founders Award Given to Nation’s Top Advocate for More Effective Criminal Justice Practices

Yesterday at the 25th anniversary of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) conference in Anaheim, California, Tim Murray, current Director Emeritus and former Executive Director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, was honored for his lifelong service on behalf of criminal justice with the organization’s one-and-only Founders Award.  As a leading visionary for the drug court model and through his determination and guidance, hundreds of thousands of mentally-ill and substance using offenders are getting the help they need, their lives restored and their families back.

West Huddleston, in his welcome letter to conference attendees, noted that with an initiative that  started twenty-five years ago in Miami-Dade County, Florida, there are today “over 2,840 Drug Courts…in operation in all fifty states and U.S. territories, successfully treating 142,000 drug-addicted individuals a year. After 25 years, Drug Courts have saved over 1.3 million lives and billions of tax dollars, forever changing the course of a predominate ‘lock’em up’ philosophy in America and proving once and for all that treatment does work when accompanied by accountability. Due in large part to the extraordinary success of Drug Courts, after four decades of escalating prison populations, the rate of incarceration in the U.S. has dropped three consecutive years. And, it is estimated that seventeen states are now expected to lower prisoner populations and save billions through innovative justice reforms, including significant Drug Court expansion.”

Actor Joaquin Phoenix presented the award to Murray during the first day of the three-day long convening, which brought together representatives from the Department of Justice, National District Attorneys Association, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, National Transportation Safety Board, political figures from State Houses and U.S. Congress, as well as entertainment figures (Melanie Griffith, Matthew Perry, Denise Richards, Martin Sheen, Paul Williams), among hundreds of other activists and policy leaders.

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Inmates receive GEDs at justice center service

Hawkins County Rodgersville -

<p class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent:.25in">ROGERSVILLE -- Crime may have landed them behind bars, but on Thursday of this week, through hard work and lots of study time, eight men incarcerated at the Hawkins Co. Jail were presented with "a certificate to a better life" ... their High School General Equivalency Diploma.</p>

Freedom Healthcare of America acquires two addiction services and behavioral health providers

Nashville Biz Journal -

Nashville-based Freedom Healthcare of America, which does business as Addiction Campuses of America, has raised $3.8 million in a Series A funding round and acquired two addiction treatment and behavioral health companies, according to a news release. Addiction Campuses of America, based in Brentwood, bought Murfreesboro-based Spring2Life along with Turning Point Recovery, which operates in north Mississippi and Memphis, Tenn., the release says. Both programs will be integrated with the company's…

Another Tragedy and A Ray of Hope

Pretrial Justice -

On May 8, 2014 in Colorado, another tragedy occurred highlighting the need for pretrial reform. State Trooper Eugene Hofacker was shot twice while stopping to help a man with a broken-down vehicle on the interstate. Trooper Hofacker was, at the time of writing, still in the hospital and recovering. The man who shot him, Thomas Ornelas, is dead, killed by another trooper who was with Hofacker at the time. The shooter was awaiting trial for an attempted murder charge, having been released from custody on a $75,000 bond. The incident is yet another example of how important pretrial release and detention decisions are, and how little the setting of money bond does to protect us from harm. This case points to one very important element of needed pretrial reform, not just in Colorado, but also across the country.  And it’s not that bond amounts should be higher.

With a long criminal history, including a conviction for murder when he was a teen, Ornelas scored high on the Mesa County pretrial risk assessment tool and was a prime candidate for pretrial detention. However, in states like Colorado that don’t have effective preventive detention statutes written into law (Colorado’s preventive detention statute is too limited to be practical), the courts are forced to set a financial release condition – $75,000 in this case – and hope that it’s high enough that the defendant can’t meet it. Thomas Ornelas could. He used the services of a bail bondsman to secure his release, paying only 15% or less of the full amount. Because the bail bond transaction is considered a private business deal, the actual amount Ornelas paid to be released is not public information.

It’s not that it should have been more than 15%, or that 100% cash bond (full amount paid to the court) was the answer. Being able to detain, through a due process hearing, someone too dangerous to be released was the answer.  But in CO, and in many states, the statutes don’t give judges this vital tool for public safety. It’s like sending cops on the street without vests – a bad policy that will lend itself to a bad outcome, always just a matter of time.

Policies that base release on how much money a defendant can pay rather than the risks they pose to the community damage our justice systems and allow for loopholes. They offer a way out for high-risk defendants with the means to make a bond and recent research has shown that half of the most dangerous defendants are getting out pretrial, as in this case. These policies also trap lower risk defendants who are poor in expensive jail beds, destabilizing them by disrupting employment, housing and family. The system is upside down, dangerous, and expensive.  And we can do better, if the legislature in CO and other states can withstand the lobbying power of the commercial surety industry. They are happy with things just as they are.

There was an ironic twist to the events of the day of the shooting; one that bodes well for pretrial reform in Colorado. The attack on Trooper Hofacker occurred only hours before Sheriff Stan Hilkey of Mesa County, Colorado announced he will be taking the position of Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, the agency which, among many other things, oversees the Colorado State Patrol. The irony comes from the fact that, as Sheriff, Hilkey has been a champion of pretrial reform in his county and state (and across the nation), and he understands that the tools exist to do better. He co-led the effort in his county to introduce pretrial risk assessment which gave the courts an empirical measurement of just how dangerous Ornelas was. Hilkey knows how money-based pretrial decisions fail to protect law enforcement officers and the public from potentially dangerous defendants. He has been a vocal supporter of not only the use of pretrial risk assessment, but also policies and practices that support a risk-based system such as supervision and monitoring and preventive detention statutes.

In his new role as Director of Public Safety, Hilkey will have the opportunity to improve Colorado’s pretrial justice systems statewide, not just in his county. In spite of the power of those who have a financial interest in maintaining an unsafe money-based system, this new chance to utilize soon-to-be Director Hilkey’s pretrial justice expertise and address unjust and counterproductive pretrial practices really should not be a hard sell for the people of Colorado and their leaders. A body of research shows how risk-based systems are safer, fairer and more effective than resource-based systems, while worst case scenarios like the shooting of Trooper Hofacker demonstrate how, much too often, current practices don’t meet even the basic requirement of ensuring public safety.

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Closing the “Detention Gap”

Pretrial Justice -

There are reasons that, after arrest and before trial, a small number of defendants should be detained. Access to money should never be one of those reasons. When it is, it results in a “detention gap,” another way in our society that those with money fare better while those without do not.

As a society that strives to eliminate injustice, we often focus on identifying and repairing gaps caused by economic and social disparities. For example, in education there is the “achievement gap,” the disparity in test scores between poor students and students from higher income backgrounds. Poorly resourced education can be the beginning of a long list of unfavorable outcomes: high dropout rates, low earnings potential, even poor health. As a nation we have been trying for decades to fix this. We give “highly qualified” teachers incentives to work in under-resourced schools, provide reduced-cost meals to low-income students and commit money and support to numerous programs to try to reduce the achievement gap.

Health care is another realm where the level of service and access to service is greatly determined by how much you can pay and other economic factors. Some refer to this as the “health care gap.” Those with good jobs and good health coverage enjoy some of the finest care in the world, often for little to no out-of-pocket costs, while the under or uninsured don’t seek preventive health care and treatment because they simply can’t afford it. If they do seek help, they must endure long waits in emergency rooms that have essentially become the only health care outlets for the poor. There have also been efforts to close this social service gap through Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and other attempts at universal coverage.

The “detention gap” occurs when decisions about pretrial release are resource-based; decided by a defendant’s ability to pay a financial bond. When this happens, those with money benefit while those without suffer, regardless of their individual risk of not returning to court or of endangering public safety. The way in which they suffer is through unnecessary detention that, like a lack of education or health care, starts a snowball effect of increasingly worse outcomes. Detained defendants are more likely to be convicted at trial, more likely to be incarcerated upon conviction and more likely to receive longer sentences than defendants who await trial in the community. And the decision of whether or not to detain is often based solely on an individual’s ability to satisfy a financial release condition. Can they pay a bond? This has created a “detention gap” between the haves and have-nots in society much like the gaps in student achievement and access to health care.

Like the fields of education and health care, there are solutions to the “detention gap,” many of them straight-forward and inexpensive, yet political. Primarily, moving from resource-based decision-making to risk-based pretrial policies in which each pretrial release decision is based on a defendant’s measured risk of not returning to court or of being re-arrested can help to mitigate system inequities. Proven tools exist that measure these risks with great validity using commonly available data.

Across the country, policy makers and practitioners are making changes to systems that allow those with money to be released pretrial while those without are detained, without regard to risk. Let’s support them and these efforts.

Let’s close the “detention gap.”

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Gallaher facing domestic assault charge

Rohan County, Kingston -

Harriman attorney Donice Butler said Eric Gallaher is innocent of the domestic assault charge levied against him by Rockwood police.

“I don’t think the police had to charge him with domestic assault,” Butler said.

“I think if it had been someone else, another decision might have been made.”

Gallaher was arrested on April 15 after he was spotted by a Roane County Sheriff’s Office deputy on routine patrol.

New Jersey — The Future of Bail in America

Pretrial Justice -

This blog post originally appeared on Bail Basics on March 25, 2014.

By Tim Schnacke

Here is a link to a report issued by New Jersey’s Joint Committee on Criminal Justice, the committee created by the Chief Justice to address issues at bail.

The document is remarkable for many reasons, but mostly because it represents the first time an entire state has figured out the essence of what is needed for bail reform in America and is actually going to work to achieve it. The document reports “problems at both ends of the spectrum,” meaning that it is having trouble with both “bail,” or release, and “no bail,” or detention, in that state.

States can create a model bail scheme by simply recognizing the sorts of things that New Jersey has recognized. First, both “bail” and “no bail” are lawful if we do them correctly. Thus, it is entirely proper for a state to change its statutes (and constitution, if necessary as it is in New Jersey) to set up a scheme in which people are both released and detained pretrial in the proper ratio.

Second, doing each part correctly is not so hard, as we have currently the sort of research, best practice recommendations, and model jurisdictions to help with both “bail” and “no bail.” Essentially, the no bail side has to hold up to various constitutional principles designed to make it extremely limited. The bail side must use evidence-based policies and practices designed to attain the three goals underlying the bail process: (1) maximize release of bailable defendants; (2) maximize public safety; and (3) maximize court appearance. The hardest part is simply figuring out how to infuse empirical pretrial risk into a system that has for too long been based on inefficient proxies for risk, such as top charge.

Overall, we must watch the New Jersey experience closely, for if we look at our American bail laws today, we see that virtually every state is in need of reform. In many states, that means changing both statutes and constitutions to best effectuate the “bail/no bail” dichotomy. Moreover, New Jersey is a good example of what we call a “top-down” state, in which prominent state leaders, such as the Governor and Chief Justice, have declared that bail will be reformed. I have personally seen that the progress made by “top down” states eclipses whatever progress we have seen in “bottom up” states, such as Colorado, in which a few committed reformers continually fight special interests without the help of most state leaders.

Tim Schnacke is the Executive Director of the Center for Legal and Evidence-Based Practices.

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BJA Announces Solicitation for New Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative

Pretrial Justice -

(Washington DC, April 10, 2014) – Yesterday the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) announced they are seeking applications for the Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative (SPDI) grant as part of their “smart suite.” The SPDI grant program seeks to build upon analysis-driven, evidence-based pretrial justice by encouraging local and tribal jurisdictions to effectively implement risk assessment and appropriate supervision and/or diversion strategies targeting pretrial outcomes within their jurisdiction.

The Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative is an opportunity for local jurisdictions to improve the front-end of their criminal justice systems. Over the past several years BJA has supported the efforts of the Pretrial Justice Working Group to help implement changes to the current bail system in America. With wide support from a broad array of organizations, including the Conference of Chief Justices, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Association of Counties and many more, recipients of the SPDI grant will have resources at their disposal to make change.

Because improvements to the pretrial system involve all local leaders, an important component of SPDI focuses on bringing together all key stakeholders, including Chief Judges, Chief Public Defenders and/or Leadership from the Private Defense Bar, Elected Prosecutors, Jail Administrators or County Sheriffs, City Police Chiefs or other lead Law Enforcement Entities, Directors of Pretrial Services, Community Corrections/Chief Probation Officers, and Elected County Officials or County Executives.

Under this solicitation, BJA will make up to three awards that cover both Phase 1 and 2 at up to $100,000 per year, for a total budget of $200,000. Applicants should prepare 2-year budgets. Awards will contain special conditions that will require submission and approval of plans for release of budget conditions for Phase 2. For Phase 3, BJA anticipates awarding a supplemental award for up to $100,000 based on successful site performance.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on May 27, 2014.

Leading up to the application deadline, BJA and the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), in partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACo) will provide a short informational video to assist locations in understanding the key elements of the project and the application process. Two Q&A sessions will also be provided to answer any questions about the application process and the project.

Informational video available April 22 Q&A sessions: April 29, 2-3 pm EDT & May 6, 2-3 pm EDT

Please visit pretrial.org regularly or sign up to receive emails from PJI for more information about the informational video and Q&A sessions. Click here to view the entire solicitation.

 

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Pretrial Research: A Solid Foundation and Growing Field

Pretrial Justice -

Every January in Las Vegas the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) provides a sort of coming out party for all the new gadgets and technology in the consumer market. All the big name manufacturers as well as small startups vie for the attention of reporters and wholesale buyers with fancy new products and flashy demonstrations.

Yesterday at the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill, the pretrial justice research and reform community held its own CES-like event, albeit without nearly as much bang or bling.

The Congressional Briefing, Pretrial Justice: Research Evidence and Future Prospects, conducted jointly by George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy (CEBCP) and the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) brought together some of the top researchers and practitioners in the pretrial field. The roster was impressive:

  • The Honorable James G. Carr, US District Court Judge, Northern District of Ohio;
  • James Austin, Ph.D., President, The JFA Institute;
  • Marie VanNostrand, Ph.D., Justice Project Manager at Luminosity, Inc.;
  • Tim Cadigan, Senior Associate at Chesterfield Associates of Maryland;
  • Alex Holsinger, Ph.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City;
  • David Huffer, Ph.D., Director, Office of Research and Evaluation, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia;
  • Melissa Labriola, Associate Director of Research, Center for Court Innovation;
  • Jerry McElroy, Executive Director, New York City Criminal Justice Agency;
  • Michael Wilson, Crime and Justice Institute.

This esteemed group of panelists each gave brief presentations of recent work and experiences with pretrial justice systems, their problems and examples of proven solutions. From an overview of arrest and jail population trends for the last several decades to a promising new model of cost-benefit analysis for pretrial systems to a description of exciting new prosecutor-led pretrial diversion programs, the scope and depth of the material was vast.

The pretrial reform movement is not one lonely academic or practitioner reshaping practice or theory about what works in pretrial justice. It is the cumulative work of thousands of people, like the panelists listed above, who are helping to bring pretrial into a new age.

The videos of the April 1st congressional briefing will be available soon at CEBCP’s site and on www.pretrial.org. The next CEBCP event will be their annual symposium, June 23-24, 2014.

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Jerome Murdough Tragedy Shows Where the System Failed and What Needs to be Fixed

Pretrial Justice -

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post on March 28, 2014.

By Tim Murray, Pretrial Justice Institute; Retired U.S. Marine & Melissa Fitzgerald, Actor; Senior Director; Justice for Vets

Last month, a veteran U.S. Marine “basically baked to death” in a New York City jail after a malfunctioning heating system caused the temperature in his cell to exceed 100 degrees. Jerome Murdough was being held not because he was convicted of a crime or because he had a violent criminal history that made him a risk to the public. Rather, Jerome Murdough died in a 6-by-10 cinder block cell because the system failed him as a veteran, and he couldn’t afford the bail that was set for his release.

Homeless and looking for a warm place to sleep on a cold night in February, Murdough was arrested for trespassing on the roof of an apartment building in Harlem. He was presented with two options: (1) either pay the city $2,500 in order to be released — a cost-prohibitive sum for someone without a job or a home, or (2) be detained on Rikers Island and wait for his case to be adjudicated, a process that can take months or even years.

The system failed in this case, in a significant way. By not having community-based supervision assets, the court in NYC had no way to address Murdough’s need for support pending trial. New York’s bail laws were never updated to include community safety as a legitimate purpose of bail, and so no investment has even been made in what research shows works — pretrial community-based supervision that mitigates the risk of flight and re-arrest. The only “tool” the court has to use, then, is money — either pay bail or stay in jail. It’s a crude tool, a double-edged sword. It favors people with it, punishes those without. It rewards those with access to cash — often ill-gotten — and keeps those who need support and services to cease further low-level criminal behavior in a system guaranteed to make them worse off, not better.

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of low-risk individuals unnecessarily occupying jail beds who haven’t been convicted of a crime. They are there because, like Murdough, they can’t afford the cost of release. One doesn’t even have to leave Rikers Island to find another disturbing example of this system at work. Kalief Browder, 16 years old at the time of his arrest and unable to afford his $10,000 bail, was held on Rikers Island for nearly three years without ever having been convicted of a crime or put on trial. He was released late last year with no explanation.

While there are a number of effective ways we can fix the broken pretrial system, two in particular stand out as being relevant to Murdough’s case: the shift from a resource-based pretrial system to risk-based pretrial system, and the need to properly identify, assess and divert veterans like Murdough who simply need access to the treatment and benefits they have earned.

In a resource-based pretrial system, access to cash determines what happens. If you are poor, you stay in jail pending trial. If you stay in jail pending trial, you are more likely to be adjudicated guilty. If you are adjudicated guilty, you are more likely to get a sentence that includes incarceration. If you serve time in jail or prison, you are more likely to commit more crime when you get out. So, this first decision — to release or detain before trial — determines pretty much everything that will happen from that point forward. Instead, jurisdictions can make better use of risk assessments to help understand who can be issued a citation in lieu of arrest and who can be released after booking with supervision conditions monitored by the court. Murdough did not have to be in jail pending trial — if NYC had the cost-efficient and necessary supervision strategies it needs, he could have been out pending trial, supervised and connected to the services he needed, such as those provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Don’t forget, he was arrested for trespassing on a night it was freezing out. That was his crime — and one for which he died. It didn’t have to be that way.

Like Murdough, tens of thousands of veterans are living on the street, and many more are languishing behind bars for crimes that were a result of unmet behavioral health needs like addiction, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Across the country Veterans Treatment Courts have emerged as a response to increasing numbers of veterans coming before the courts, but they must be rapidly expanded in order to meet a growing need. Murdough had a history of misdemeanor convictions, common among those with unaddressed issues and chronic homelessness. Had a Veterans Treatment Court been available, he could have been diverted out of the traditional revolving-door system and connected to the services he needed to get his life back on track. Jerome Murdough fought for our freedom, and we did nothing to fight for his.

As the investigation into Murdough’s death continues, it is important to remember that unless we fundamentally reform the way in which we approach the pretrial process by using tested, best-practice tools, we will be reading about another “Jerome Murdough” in the near future. We are leaving too many men behind.

The post Jerome Murdough Tragedy Shows Where the System Failed and What Needs to be Fixed appeared first on Pretrial Justice Institute.

Formerly homeless woman recalls personal journey of restoration

Newport - Cocke County -

Newport, Tennessee Nelson Morais Formerly homeless woman recalls personal journey of restoration Formerly homeless woman recalls personal journey of restoration Formerly homeless woman recalls personal journey of restoration Formerly homeless woman recalls personal journey of restoration Formerly homeless woman recalls personal journey of restoration The Newport Plain Talk urn:publicid:newportplaintalk.com:41941 Change 0 Usable None 2014-03-20T11:44:56Z 2014-03-27T11:44:56Z 2014-03-20T11:44:56Z

Progress Towards Pretrial Policy and Practice Reform Hits Unprecedented Levels

Pretrial Justice -

Two Years Following the National Symposium on Pretrial Justice, Progress towards Enactment Is Detailed in Latest Annual Report

Washington D.C. (March 12, 2014) – Today a comprehensive national report on pretrial justice activities was issued by the Pretrial Justice Working Group, a standing, multi-disciplinary working group of national and regional leaders in criminal justice convened under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP).  The report outlines the specific recommendations agreed to during the National Symposium on Pretrial Justice in 2011 and the previous year’s progress towards adoption of these recommendations.  The annual report offers guidance in the following areas: Policy and Practice Enhancement, Stakeholder Groups, Department of Justice Programs, Legislators, Philanthropic Community, and the Academic Community.

The 2013 progress report includes:

  • more than 110 updates encompassing the work of more than 100 organizations;
  • regional-based work in more than 25 states;
  • examples of diverse initiatives that are national in scope; and
  • the collaborative activities of pretrial justice stakeholders and leaders who serve different roles within the criminal justice system (i.e., judges, prosecutors, defenders, pretrial services practitioners, law enforcement professionals, government agencies, nonprofits, academia and watchdog and civil liberties groups.)

“The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is pleased to have supported the work of the Pretrial Justice Working Group (PJWG) over the last three years,” said Denise O’Donnell, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance. “Rarely have I seen a group of leaders come together so cohesively to advance a mission so critical to the criminal justice system. I want to thank the members of the PJWG for their dedication in developing and implementing fair, effective, and safe pretrial practices across the United States.”

The partners of the Pretrial Justice Working Group are engaged in this collaborative work because, contrary to its mandate, the current pretrial system does not promote public safety, fair and equal treatment of defendants or the effective use of community resources.  It is a system based on a defendant’s financial resources, not their measured risk.

  • Too many jail inmates in the U.S. are held pretrial simply because they cannot afford their money bond.
  • Only five percent of all arrestees ultimately go to prison, yet almost fifty percent of those arrested are incarcerated pending the outcome of their case(s).
  • Research has found that even short periods of pretrial detention of low and moderate risk defendants increase their likelihood to commit crime in the future.
  • Most jurisdictions do not require a risk assessment to determine if a defendant would present a real risk to the community if they are released prior to their trial.
  • Many states do not allow for preventive detention for non-capital offenses or pretrial supervision for those who could be safely released to the community.
  • The average pretrial jail bed cost is $60 per day—as much as $200 per day in some jurisdictions—with a total cost to the country of $9 billion per year.

In 2011, current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder convened a National Symposium on Pretrial Justice to bring together leading advocacy groups, policymakers, law enforcement officers, jail and prison administrators, prosecutors and judges from across the country to design appropriate procedures to detain without bail those defendants who were deemed too dangerous for release and safeguard due process and civil rights for those who were eligible for release.

“Momentum has built to a remarkable degree on pretrial justice reform and it continues to achieve new levels of recognition and acceptance,” offered Cherise Fanno Burdeen, Chief Operating Officer, Pretrial Justice Institute. “This is a pivotal period for the reform effort and the flurry of activity memorialized in this report shows we are seeing tremendous progress towards smarter pretrial policies and practices.”

 

Implementing The Recommendations Of The National Symposium On Pretrial Justice: The 2013 Progress Report
Implementing the Recommendations of the National Symposium on Pretrial Justice- The 2013 Progress Report.pdf
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Details Tags:PJWG Category:infostop Date:March 12, 2014 Implementing the Recommendations of the National Symposium on Pretrial Justice: The 2013 Progress Report (Executive Summary)
2013 Progress Report Executive Summary.pdf
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Details Tags:PJWG Category:infostop Date:March 12, 2014

 

Selected Updates

The Pretrial Justice Institute, a leading advocacy group promoting collaboration on safe, fair, and effective juvenile and adult pretrial justice practices and policies, compiled this report, along with dozens of other partners representing every aspect of the pretrial justice system.  Highlights of their accomplishments in 2013 include the following regional work:

  • In May, Colorado enacted a new bail statute (HB 13-1236) which, among other things, de-emphasizes secured financial release conditions and charged-based bond schedules and promotes empirical risk assessment.  Throughout the year, PJWG partners explained the new statute and supporting empirical research about the utility of unsecured bonds which do not require money upfront and introduced the new Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT) to counties and judicial districts in Colorado through presentations and training sessions to judges and magistrates, prosecutors, public defenders, pretrial services practitioners and other justice system stakeholders.
  • The Pretrial Release Subcommittee of the Maryland Governor’s Task Force on Laws and Policies Relating to Indigent Criminal Defendants convened periodically to develop pretrial justice recommendations. The group recommended moving away from money and towards risk based release decision making and expanding the use of supervision and monitoring. Members of the Governor’s Task Force agreed to move forward with five of the six recommendations, and the Governor is now in talks with legislative leadership about legislatively improving pretrial justice in the state.
  • Throughout 2013, PJWG partners conducted a range of pretrial technical assistance and training activities to support the efforts of California counties to implement or enhance evidence-based pretrial services programs as a response to Criminal Justice Realignment, which shifts many of California’s convicted inmates from state to county incarceration and supervision. With 63 percent of California jail populations comprised of pretrial inmates, counties throughout the state are looking for ways to safely reduce the pretrial jail population.
  • In April 2013, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released a report profiling the jail population in New Jersey, which garnered major media attention and focused legislators and the public on New Jersey’s broken pretrial justice system. The report also caught the attention of the New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, who convened a taskforce to review pretrial justice practices and make recommendations on reform.
  • The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy has been leading the way in protecting low and moderate risk defendants’ state-mandated right to non-financial release and is being used as a model for initiatives in other states.
  • Pretrial and bail reform legislation was introduced in a variety of states. In Wisconsin a regressive bill was initiated to reintroduce the commercial bail bonds industry into the state. This bill was vetoed by the Governor after a short, but strong campaign supported by PJWG members. In February, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman highlighted the need for an overhaul of New York’s bail system in a State of the Judiciary speech which quickly gained national attention, reigniting a public discussion of pretrial practices in the U.S.

In 2013, PJWG also continued its primary strategy of cultivating pretrial justice stakeholders to become advocates for change in the current pretrial justice system.

  •  At the Conference of Chief Justices mid­year meeting in the beginning of 2013, the nation’s highest ranking state judicial officers adopted a bold and historic resolution calling upon state courts to “adopt evidence based pretrial practices” and to “advocate for presumptive non­financial pretrial release.” In taking this step, the Conference of Chief Justices joined with the National Association of Counties, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the American Probation and Parole Association, the American Council of Chief Defenders, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Conference of State Court Administrators — all of which have passed similar pretrial justice resolutions in the previous two years.
  • National stakeholder groups, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs Association, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Attorneys General, the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, the National Criminal Justice Association, the National Association for Court Management, the National Judicial College and the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, held conferences and other educational events that featured presentations on pretrial justice.
  • Throughout the country, regional collaborations among prosecutor, defense, judicial, law enforcement, pretrial services and jail administration representatives met to promote pretrial improvements as part of their criminal justice coordinating committees or as part of a variety of projects, including the National Institute of Corrections’ Evidence Based Decision Making Program and its Transition from Jail to the Community Initiative with the Urban Institute.

Pretrial Justice Institute: The Pretrial Justice Institute is a nonprofit organization that works toward safe, fair and effective pretrial justice by promoting reforms in arrest, bail and diversion decision-making. PJI aims for data-driven and informed policies across juvenile and adult pretrial justice systems to diversify outcomes influenced by demographics. PJI only supports pretrial detention in cases where defendants are a threat to community safety or demonstrate failure to appear in court. For more information, visit www.pretrial.org.

 

 

The post Progress Towards Pretrial Policy and Practice Reform Hits Unprecedented Levels appeared first on Pretrial Justice Institute.

Houston land will help poor

Rohan County, Kingston -

Roane County Habitat for Humanity now owns some of the property that Rocky and Leon Houston lost in foreclosure.

On March 12, 2009, the brothers and other members of the Houston family signed a deed of trust on four tracts of land that named Cleveland attorney James Logan as the beneficiary.

The property was used to secure attorney fees and expenses for Logan.

How the New Healthcare Law Can Improve the Criminal Justice System

Pretrial Justice -

This article originally appeared on the Public Welfare Foundation’s Newsroom on February 26, 2014.

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act can expand mental health and drug treatment services for people who are cycling in and out of prisons and jails.

For millions of people cycling through jails and prisons, January 1, 2014 was not just the start of a new year, but perhaps the start of new lives. That’s because they became eligible for health care under the federal Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010 and is now being implemented.

While prison inmates receive basic health care while they are incarcerated, there is no guarantee of care either for people who are released pending trial or for former prisoners once they are released. Without appropriate care, chronic and other diseases and disorders – including addictions – can deteriorate or re-occur, leaving pre-trial defendants or former prisoners either vulnerable to poor health outcomes or more likely to engage in risky behavior.

But, now people involved at various points in the criminal justice system could be eligible for health care coverage under the ACA, mostly under Medicaid. Although that generally does not include people who are incarcerated, it does include the approximately 10 million people who cycle in and out of the nation’s jails each year (as long as they are not detained), the 650,000 people released from prison each year, and the nearly five million ex-offenders who are on probation or parole at any given time.

Amy L. Solomon, senior advisor to the Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice, calls this development a “game changer.” Speaking at a conference last October on the impact of the ACA on the criminal justice system, Solomon said that the law “will greatly increase the portion of the justice-involved population eligible for health care coverage. It will ensure that coverage for the newly eligible includes essential health benefits, including mental health and substance abuse benefits at parity. And it will increase the focus on delivering high-quality, integrated care.”

Many criminal justice reform advocates hope ACA can help more people with health issues stay out of the criminal justice system altogether. And they are starting to focus specifically on diverting more people with substance abuse and mental health issues who have been arrested and are awaiting trial into community treatment.

“Up until now,” says Timothy Murray, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, which is a Public Welfare Foundation grantee, “treatment simply has not been affordable for most of those who get arrested.”

Offering more treatment as a diversion option at the pretrial stage could prevent arrestees from becoming more deeply involved in the criminal justice system and help reverse the trend of over-incarceration.

In the past 40 years, the number of people in U.S. prisons and jails has increased to 2.3 million, attributed in no small part to the war on drugs. Managing health care for this large population has been a major concern – as well as a major expense – for federal and state corrections departments. Each year, an estimated $7 billion to $10 billion is spent on health care in correctional facilities.

Under the ACA, Medicaid will broaden its coverage beyond children, pregnant women and disabled adults below certain income levels and will include all non-elderly low-income adults. By 2016, it is expected that nearly six million or one-third of the newly insured Medicaid population of adults between the ages of 19 and 64, will be people who have been booked into jails during the year.

The federal government has agreed to pick up 100 percent of the costs of the expanded Medicaid coverage until the end of 2016, and, so far, half the states are planning to expand. In addition to possible coverage through Medicaid, people who have been arrested but not detained might also qualify for coverage through state health exchanges.

Most significantly, the ACA, together with the federal Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, will require health insurers to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment at the same or similar levels that they cover medical and surgical services.

Making these services available at the front end of the system is critical to long-term success. A recent report from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies notes, “Research studies estimate that 65 percent of all adults in the U.S. corrections system meet medical criteria for drug and/or alcohol use disorders, and treatment participation reduces subsequent criminal activity by 33 to 70 percent, depending on the model.”

Yet, the treatment options have been limited for someone with substance abuse or mental health issues who has been arrested and is released while awaiting trial. Probably fewer than five percent could be sent to a potentially effective intervention program such as drug court.

Murray and other pretrial reform advocates hope that justice systems will now develop routines and protocols to maximize ACA’s potential.

Murray speculates that, “Now, with ACA-funded community resources, the court could order, as a condition of pretrial release, that an individual get a clinical assessment and a referral for the appropriate treatment instead of languishing in jail at public expense and further exacerbating their behavioral health disorders.”

The potential benefits of the ACA to the individual and to society are enormous. “If a pretrial defendant is assessed and placed in a treatment program and does well, the court is likely to acknowledge that at sentencing and order a continuation of that treatment,” says Murray. “In the long term, that is going to be a much more effective way of enhancing community safety.”

As Solomon put it, “If more people get the treatment they need, they are more likely to get out and stay out of the criminal justice system.” They are also, “more likely to be able to work, to support themselves and their families, to pay their taxes and contribute to our communities. That serves our collective interest.”

 

Related Resources: The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act And The Pretrial System: A "Front Door" to Health and Safety
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Pretrial System - NAPSA 2014.pdf
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Details Author:NAPSA Tags:ACA Category:Diversion Date:February 14, 2014 The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act And The Pretrial System: A "Front Door" to Health and Safety (Executive Summary)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Pretrial System (Executive Summary) - NAPSA 2014.pdf
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Details Author:NAPSA Tags:ACA Category:Diversion Date:February 14, 2014

The post How the New Healthcare Law Can Improve the Criminal Justice System appeared first on Pretrial Justice Institute.

American Addiction Centers raises $1.9 million

Nashville Biz Journal -

Brentwood-based American Addiction Centers has raised $1.9 million in an equity offering, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the filing, there were 14 investors. Directors with the company include Darrell Freeman, founder of Zycron, and Jerry Bostelman, founder of Vaco. American Addiction Centers owns and operates behavioral health treatment centers across the country. Less than a year ago, the company raised $6.5 million.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen Testifies Before Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee

Pretrial Justice -

PJI’s Chief Operating Officer, Cherise Fanno Burdeen testified before the Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday in support of SB 973, one of a number of bills currently being considered by the Maryland Legislature that would improve bail and pretrial laws in the state. Cherise joined an all-star panel including Maryland Public Defender, Paul DeWolfe; Baltimore County State’s Attorney, Scott D. Shellenberger; Baltimore City State’s Attorney, Gregg Bernstein; Sect. of Public Safety & Correctional Services, Gregg L. Hershberger; and Maryland Governor’s Office Executive Director, Tammy Brown. In her testimony, Cherise spoke of the need for changing the Maryland bail system and ways of doing so.

 

 

The bail system in Maryland, like nearly every other state in the country, is broken. It fails to do the job we need it to do – that is, detain dangerous defendants and release low risk defendants to accountable and effective supervision pending trial.

 

If passed, this bill will benefit the state of Maryland in three important ways:

 

  1. It will increase public safety and confidence in the system;
  2. It will reduce costs associated with the use of secure jails required to provide security, food and medical care to inmates; and
  3. It will avoid the unnecessary human toll the current system inflicts on families and communities, particularly Marylanders of lower economic status.

At this very moment, two out of every three prisoners in U.S. jails are being held not because they have been convicted of a crime, or because they pose an unmanageable danger to society. Rather, two out of every three of those in jail are there simply because they lack the money needed to make bail.

 

The converse situation is just as troubling: those with money, regardless of where they got it from or the danger they pose to the community or to their victims, are able to purchase their release and walk the streets unfettered.

 

In some Maryland counties, nearly ninety-percent of the jail population is comprised of pretrial detainees. Fortunately, the bill before your committee, HB 1232/SB 973, will help to fix this growing problem.

 

For the last 18 months, I have served as the Chair of the Pretrial Release Subcommittee of the Governor’s Task Force to Study the Laws and Policies Relating to the Representation of Indigent Criminal Defendants by OPD. Our subcommittee enjoyed a wide range of expertise from a diverse set of stakeholders – it was comprised of a judge, a prosecutor, the defense bar, jail administrators and representative from a sheriff’s department.

 

Two of our recommendations, accepted by the full Task Force and sent to the Governor, are reflected in SB 973.

 

The first is the implementation of a pretrial risk assessment tool that aids those who are making the vital decision to either release or detain someone after they have been arrested for a crime.

 

The second recommendation reflected in the bill is the call for an accountable and transparent program to supervise defendants post-release, to ensure they appear in court, remain arrest free pending trial, and do not endanger the community or victims.

 

As part of SB 973, these elements will work to allow those who can be safely managed in the community to retain their housing and employment – the two most important predictors of successful reentry after leaving jail.

 

To provide you with further context, research recently conducted by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation found that half of the most dangerous individuals arrested today are released pending trial, with no supervision or services simply because they can afford to make bail.

 

The same research from the Arnold Foundation found that detaining low-risk defendants— often those who cannot afford to pay their bond— increases their likelihood to reoffend in the future. This is the case even after only 24 hours of incarceration. It is for these reasons that Maryland needs an effective, validated pretrial risk assessment tool.

 

In addition to implementing risk assessment in pretrial decision making, the bill calls for a pretrial supervision program to provide monitoring of defendants released by the court. Pretrial supervision often includes reminding defendants of their upcoming court dates, and of other court orders. This has been proven to lower failure-to-appear rates and is an essential part of the reform effort.

 

This legislation offers Maryland an historic opportunity to reform the pretrial justice system to the benefit of the state and its residents.

 

The establishment of a statewide system will allow for all Maryland residents, not just those in its wealthiest county, to experience the same high-quality decision making that results from the use of a validated risk assessment instrument and provide all residents an increased level of public safety through accountable supervision.

 

Risk-based pretrial decision making and supervision is backed by groups such as the National Association of Counties, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Conference of Chief Justices, the National Sheriffs Association, and others serving on the front lines to keep us safe.

 

Thank you for allowing me to testify today. I am attaching to this written testimony a copy of the report on Maryland done for the Task Force, upon which this bill was based. I congratulate the bill’s author and am happy to answer any questions.

Recommendations from the Pretrial Release Subcommittee of the Maryland Governor’s Task Force on Laws and Policies Relating to Representation of Indigent Criminal Defendants can be found here.

The post Cherise Fanno Burdeen Testifies Before Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee appeared first on Pretrial Justice Institute.

When Release From Jail is Tied to Being Black And Poor

Pretrial Justice -

By Deon Jones    

 

This week, the Obama Administration, advocacy organizations, state and local governments, and citizens across the United States are celebrating Black Male Achievement Week.  This is a time when stakeholders bring to the forefront the plight of African-American males in the U.S. and devise action plans to solve them. There are many economic, educational, and social injustices that still plague the African-American community today, and here at the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), we believe in the iconic words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Dr. King wrote these words while incarcerated, pretrial, in a Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963. Since 2007, PJI has advocated diligently to promote fair, safe, and effective pretrial services in jurisdictions all across the country, particularly moving from a system based on monetary status to one that is based on individual risk , an injustice that drastically affects non-violent, poor African-American males across the country.

According to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, “more African American adults are under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850.” There are close to 12 million arrests each year in the United States, and less than 5 percent of those arrests are for violent crimes. Therefore, most incarcerated individuals, who pose no threat to society and no risk of skipping trial, are stuck in a cell because they cannot afford bail. Research already shows us the extreme racial disparities that exist among national arrest rates so it follows that there are many African-American males sitting behind bars just because they are poor.

A new journal article, “‘Give us Free’: Addressing Racial Disparities in Bail Determinations” written by American University law professor and PJI Board member Cynthia Jones points to research showing that African Americans who are accused of crimes will be given more extreme bail rulings than White Americans accused of the same or similar crimes. This harsh punishment is most likely in the form a large amount of money that they cannot pay. In some cases, African Americans have a higher chance of not being released on bond and are forced to stay locked up until trial. For many African Americans, this injustice is the result of little oversight of bail officials who have almost full discretion when it comes to setting bail. Instead of using an individualized risk-assessment tool, in most cases, it comes down to income and race.

For African Americans, particularly males, being incarcerated for long periods of time on non-violent charges, such as outstanding warrants, petty thefts, and others, can be detrimental in a society where incarceration has harsh side effects. The unemployment rate for African-American men is 11.9 percent, the highest of all racial groups. When people are incarcerated for long periods of time, most will lose their job. Therefore, there is no income, and if they have families, household income also decreases forcing families closer to the poverty line and to rely more heavily on public assistance. In addition, families are broken with the loss of a loved one to the criminal justice system.

For young African-American male teens in the adult system, the effects are even worse. NYC teen Kalief Browder was a high school sophomore walking home from a party when he was arrested on a tip that he robbed someone. He was sent to the notorious Rikers Island. He was held because he couldn’t afford the $10,000 bail. Although he went to court many times, he never had a trial. After 3 years in jail, a judge offered to release him in exchange for a guilty plea. Kalief did not take the deal. He was ultimately released, after 33 months, with no explanation. Not only is it a tragedy what happened to him and the injustice in the court process, but it is a tragedy on what Kalief missed out on – receiving an education, graduating with his peers, going to prom, and other enjoyments of a high school teenager.

The injustice of determining if a person can go home free after being arrested is ruining the lives of many people and is resulting in over-incarceration, jail crowding, and taxpayer dollars being spent by the billions. The answer of if a defendant can go home seems to have come down to two things: income and race. As we celebrate Black Male Achievement Week, we should urge jurisdictions to use data-driven risk assessment tools to assess if a person should be released from pretrial detention or not, instead of just setting arbitrary bail amounts. Too many African-American men are stuck in jail who do not threaten public safety and will show up for trial. As our country continues to evolve, we must continue to fight against barriers that have blocked African-American male achievement for too long so all, even the poorest, can reach their full potential.

 

 

The post When Release From Jail is Tied to Being Black And Poor appeared first on Pretrial Justice Institute.

WHTA coat donation

Bedford County News -

Mickey McCormick, president of the Walking Horse Trainer's Association, presented Kyle Turnbow of Shelbyville Central High School with around 50 jackets to be distributed to the local schools. "The...

Roane Health Dept.offers free flu shots

Rohan County, Kingston -

Flu season is here, with seasonal influenza cases now reported across Tennessee.

The Roane County Health Department is working to protect the community by providing free flu vaccinations to area residents until vaccine supplies are depleted.

Patients may walk in to request a flu vaccine any time during regular clinic hours. The department is requesting people arrive no later than 3:30 p.m.

Consignment sale also helps food pantry

Rohan County, Kingston -

Tulle and twinkling sequins covered the walls at the Kingston Community Center last weekend as a charity prom dress sale went on.

The “Say Yes to the Dress” consignment sale was put on by Roane County High School senior Amber Luttrell.

Girls from all over the county donated dresses to be sold during the community event.

These girls are doing more than just getting a little money back; they are also helping Roane County.

Free firewood helps save money, gives a hand up

Rohan County, Kingston -

Lottie McLean of Rockwood was one of many who took advantage of free wood Thusday through a distribution program set up by Roane County Road Superintendent Dennis Ferguson.

McLean said that this program was really going to help her family of five stay warm.

“When you only have a Social Security income, it gets hard,” McLean said. “This is a blessing.”

The wood being given away comes from storms and trees that need to be removed from roadways.

PJI Announces New Executive Director, Chairman of the Board

Pretrial Justice -

By Ian Gray

COO Cherise Fanno Burdeen Promoted to Executive Director, Idaho Sheriff Gary Raney (Ada County) Named Board Chairman

Washington, D.C. – January 8, 2014 – The Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) announced today that Cherise Fanno Burdeen has been named the organization’s new, incoming Executive Director.  Fanno Burdeen, who currently serves as PJI’s Chief Operating Officer, ascends as her fellow national expert on pretrial justice issues, Tim Murray, steps down after eight years as Executive Director to serve as PJI’s Director Emeritus. As the head of the Washington, DC-based non-profit whose mission is to promote safe, fair and effective pretrial justice practices and policies, Murray has worked closely with Fanno Burdeen for nearly fifteen years.

“It has been my life’s work to ensure common sense, fairness and accountability are integral to the American criminal justice process, particularly around pretrial issues.  Our momentum has grown to a remarkable degree and I could not be more proud or confident that Cherise is the right person, at the right time, to take pretrial justice reform to new levels of recognition and acceptance,” Murray said. “Throughout her tenure at PJI, Cherise has developed alliances and friendships with key stakeholders and leaders who now stand with her in demand for equitable pretrial justice policies and practices.”

Fanno Burdeen, who also serves as the 2013-2014 president of the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, joined PJI in 2006 after working for the US Department of Justice, Chicago’s Safer Foundation, and US Department of Homeland Security.

“I’m honored by the trust given to me from the PJI Board and for the opportunity to step into this role at a pivotal period of pretrial reform.  Under Tim’s leadership, the pretrial justice field has been transformed and we are starting to see movement towards smarter pretrial policies and practices,” said Fanno Burdeen. “Building on his vision, I look forward to growing our coalition of supporters, investing in models of best practices and working towards a more equitable and safe pretrial system.”

PJI also announced Wednesday that as of January 1, 2014, Ada County, Idaho Sheriff Gary Raney began serving as the new chairman of the organization’s board. He succeeds the Honorable James Carr, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, who retired after over 25 years on the PJI board. Raney joined the Ada County Sheriff’s office more than 30 years ago and was sworn in as sheriff in 2005. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the US Attorney General’s Advisory Committee for the National Institute of Corrections.

“Law enforcement professionals have a unique and up-close understanding of criminal justice – what keeps the public safe, what it costs to do so, and what works.  There are challenges and changes needed which start with what happens during the pretrial phase,” Raney said. “It’s an honor to have been selected to serve as chairman of the board of PJI, and I’m eager to work with Cherise and the whole PJI team to continue the positive momentum we are seeing in communities around the country.”

After years of working behind the scenes, the issue of pretrial justice has gained some notable public attention recently, as in Maryland and New Jersey, which are considering sweeping reforms to their bail-bond systems in legislative sessions starting this year.

In addition, PJI has expanded its staff in hiring its first Director of Communications, Spike Bradford. Bradford was most recently Senior Research Associate at the Justice Policy Institute, a DC-based non-profit organization working for justice system reform. He brings vast experience in research, education and communications on state-based reform, delinquency prevention strategies, corrections analysis and bail reform.

“Progress is being made across the country,” Fanno Burdeen said. “I look forward to working with the incredible staff and board of PJI as we support system change and meet the challenges ahead.”

 

Pretrial Justice Institute: The Pretrial Justice Institute is a nonprofit that works toward safe, fair and effective pretrial justice by promoting reforms in arrest, bail and diversion decision-making. PJI aims for data-driven and informed policies across juvenile and adult pretrial justice systems to diversify outcomes influenced by demographics. PJI only supports pretrial detention in cases where defendants are a threat to community safety or demonstrate failure to appear in court. For more information visit www.pretrial.org.

 

CONTACT: Ian Gray

IGray@deweysquare.com | 202-680-8479

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