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For several months, PJI has been promising that our upcoming Worldwide Pretrial Innovators Convention, or Pi-Con, will be different, special, and “unlike any other justice gathering you’ve been to.” Now that Pi-Con is just six weeks away, it’s time we explain exactly why it will be so unique. 

For starters, Pi-Con is a convention, not a conference. Conferences involve a lot of sitting, listening, and one-way information flow—the “good stuff” usually happens during breaks and evenings. At Pi-Con, you’ll be part of the action all day, developing solutions to major issues, honing your skills, and challenging yourself at “Pretrial Bootcamp.”

For example, you will hear Jessica Jackson from #cut50 talk about pretrial and mass incarceration in the “UP Incubator,” then share your perspective in our video booth. In the “Action Lab,” you’ll meet practitioners who have been successful in the field, and then work with them on practical strategies you can bring back to your system. We have even invited select members of the media to participate so they can ask more probing questions about the current system and proposed changes. (more…)

 

New Jersey’s sweeping and long-awaited bail reforms passed a crucial final hurdle just before New Year’s when the state’s little-known Council on Local Mandates, which has the power to invalidate legislation it considers an “unfunded mandate,” denied a challenge to the new law from the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC).  sealofnewjerseystateseal

Pretrial justice improvements like those in New Jersey will almost always encounter resistance: arguments about public safety, costs, constitutionality and, ironically, issues of fairness. Almost all of these objections can probably be traced back to the for-profit bail bonding industry lobbyists’ playbook.

New Jersey’s successful rebuttal reminds us that steadfast arguments based in reason and evidence—forcefully articulated by a broad coalition—can win the day. (more…)

 

The new year affords us an opportunity to look back and ahead, to reflect and imagine. In 2017, PJI’s Board of Directors will welcome a new board chair—Chris Rodgers, a county commissioner from Douglas County, Nebraska. So, we asked outgoing chair Gary Raney and outgoing vice chair Cliff Keenan—two pretrial champions who have given invaluable service to PJI —to look back on their time with us and to think about the future of pretrial justice.


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Guest blog by Marie VanNostrand, Ph.D., Justice Project Manager, Luminosity

Several years ago I coined the term ‘resource-based vs. risk-based’ to describe the two primary systems of pretrial release in our country. One system relies on a defendant’s financial resources to determine if they are released or detained pretrial; the other relies on that defendant’s risk of failing to appear in court and the danger they pose to the community.   2016_12_7_marie-vannostrand_lg_sq 

Remarkably, the volume of evidence against a resource-based system has quietly accumulated for a century or longer. Yet, as the volume of evidence supporting a risk-based system has increased exponentially over the past five years, the concern over the potential for risk assessments to perpetuate racial bias has inexplicably begun to overshadow their benefits and to slow pretrial reform efforts. The concern that risk assessments can perpetuate the existing racial bias in our criminal justice system was raised to the national stage in 2014 by then Attorney General Eric Holder and, although I suspect unintentionally, has become a key argument against pretrial reform. (more…)

 

Whether you are a long-time PJI newsletter reader who still has hard copies of The Pretrial Reporter, a first-time visitor wondering what pretrial justice is all about or even someone who thinks things are just fine the way they are in our money-based bail system, thank you for caring enough about pretrial justice to take the time to engage with us.

2016_11_23_blogSometimes it seems like our society, nation and world are divided in ways we’re unsure how to bridge. Things seem less civil now than in times gone by. But one way in which we at PJI believe we are all united is in our shared commitment to improving justice. Even if we disagree on what real justice looks like or how to achieve it, at PJI we start with the premise that you want a pretrial justice system that is safe, fair and effective. We start there and keep moving forward, through the good days and the bad. (more…)

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