Blog Archives

For Immediate Release: October 22, 2015
Contact: Christina DiPasquale, christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 202.716.1953

Pretrial Justice Institute: Time for the Administration to Join the Fight to Replace Cash Bail with Detention Based on Risk

Washington, DC-- Today, at 2pm, President Obama is slated join The Marshall Project in a White House conversation on criminal justice reform with law enforcement leaders. The Pretrial Justice Institute issued the following statement in advance, from executive director Cherise Fanno Burdeen:

“There is no way to solve our nation’s mass incarceration problem without addressing cash bail, which keeps poor, low-risk people behind bars while wealthier and dangerous defendants go free. Detaining millions of potentially innocent Americans every year for money, before trial and before any conviction, is blatantly unconstitutional. It not only costs taxpayers billions of dollars a year, but it also makes residents and law enforcement officers less safe because it destabilizes lives, making it more likely individuals will commit future offenses.

“It’s time for the Obama administration to have a real conversation about the commonsense solution to this problem: replacing cash bail with detention based on risk, leaving only people who pose a grave danger to our communities in jail before trial. Americans have seen far too many tragic deaths of innocent individuals in jail for minor offenses, like Sandra Bland, because they couldn’t afford cash bail. This is a problem we can fix and it is an essential part of any discussion focused on real criminal justice reform.” (more…)

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Pretrial Justice Institute: Philly Jail is the Tip of the Iceberg, Nation’s Jails are Full of Poor, Unconvicted Americans

Philadelphia, PA-- In anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia today, the Pretrial Justice Institute issued the following statement from Executive Director Cherise Fanno Burdeen:

“As the Pope prays with and for the many poor and unconvicted people in his Philadelphia jail visit, we hope his prayers extend to the 60% of people in jail nationwide who have not yet gotten a trial. Millions of Americans are incarcerated every year before trial, most because they are simply too poor to afford cash bail. In America, rich people can buy their liberty before trial, while the poor languish behind bars.

“The time has come to fix this great wrong, and to replace cash bail with assessments of risk. Detaining someone before trial should only be done in extreme cases where an individual or community is in danger, and should never be based on money. We hope the Pope’s visit inspires the city of Philadelphia, and the nation, to move beyond cash bail.” (more…)

For Immediate Release
Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com

** See the Just Launched Petition: http://tiny.cc/govbrownendcashbail **

 

Days after California law enforcement officers arrested 31 bail bondsmen across five California Counties in a sting operation, the Pretrial Justice Institute is launching a campaign to replace cash bail in California with a just-created petition on MoveOn.org. Alleged crimes include extensive corruption and kickback schemes, including infiltration of city jails to drum up business. (more…)

 

For Immediate Release: August 28, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Pretrial Justice Institute: CA Gov Should End Cash Bail in Light of Corruption

It has emerged that late last week California law enforcement officers arrested 31 bail bondsmen across five California Counties after a sting operation revealed extensive corruption and kickback schemes, including an infiltration of city jails to drum up business. This comes as national scrutiny of our nation’s cash bail system is at an all-time high.

Statement from Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of Pretrial Justice Institute:

“Today’s mass arrest underscores why Governor Brown should act to replace cash bail in California with detention based on risk. Put simply--risk, and never money, should be the only deciding factor on who we incarcerate before trial. Cash bail systems have been the center of corruption scandals for a century, and Governor Brown could put an end to it once and for all.  (more…)

For Immediate Release: August 28, 2015

Contact:

Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953, Christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Statement from Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute:

“Today we mourn the death of Jamycheal Mitchell, the 8th tragic death in less than two months of a low-risk defendant who was detained for lack of money before trial. Jamycheal was being held on cash bail on suspicion of shoplifting $5 worth of snacks, and for that he paid with his life.

“By now it should be clear that we have to replace cash bail with a commonsense alternative that is safer, fairer and better for public safety: detention based on risk. Only risk, and never money, should determine who is detained before trial. Here is what we know— jail is a dangerous place. Even short stints of jail are disastrous for people’s lives, leading to lost housing and jobs, and destabilized families. Jail is not a place to hold low-risk defendants like Jamycheal, it should be reserved for only our most dangerous suspects. (more…)

For Immediate Release: August 4, 2015
Contact: Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953, christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Today, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that the number of inmates who died in state prisons and local jails increased for the third consecutive year—the highest number reported to the BJS Deaths in Custody Reporting Program since 2007. As in every year since 2000, suicide was the leading cause of death in local jails, accounting for more than a third (34 percent) of all jail deaths in 2013.

The report also states that the “typical inmate who died in 2013 was...in custody for fewer than 7 days,” making unconvicted people detained on cash bail particularly vulnerable. In fact, jailhouse suicides of unconvicted inmates outnumbered convicted inmates by nearly 5 to 1 since 2000.

The Pretrial Justice Institute released the following statement from Executive Director Cherise Fanno Burdeen:

“Jail can be a dangerous and damaging place and we are seeing the consequences of cash bail systems that needlessly detain people based on money, not risk. Cash bail keeps individuals who need help behind bars and unable to access the treatment they deserve. The last thing we should be doing is confining people who pose no danger to the community because they’re too poor to buy their way out. (more…)

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2015

Contact: Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953, christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com

 

Statement from Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of Pretrial Justice Institute:

“Kindra Chapman and Sandra Bland were two young women arrested for minor offenses that did not present a serious danger to the community. They should not have been thrown in jail in the first place and they should not have had to rely on a failed cash bail system for their release.

“Law enforcement communities need to focus on real threats to our communities, especially when considering how deadly arrests are in communities of color and the many ways that pretrial detention destroys lives.

“Statistics show that police officers around the country arrest far more people who engage in drug use or disorderly conduct than violent offenders. However, as these tragic cases show, non-violent individuals--like Kindra and Sandra--are being subjected to the same harsh and frightening process as dangerous individuals: arrest, booking and pretrial detention. (more…)

For Immediate Release: July 22, 2015
Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Bland’s Tragic Death After 3 Days in Pretrial Detention Shows the Stakes of Imprisoning People Before Trial

Statement from Pretrial Justice Institute Executive Director Cherise Fanno Burdeen:

“Sandra Bland should not have been in jail in the first place. Our country has a problem with excessive pretrial detention-- with more than 60% of our nation’s jails filled up with unconvicted Americans, many of whom, like Bland, who pose no risk to our communities. Sandra’s tragic death illustrates the severity and danger of our nation’s pretrial detention obsession.

Even three days in jail can cause tremendous harm--lost wages, jobs, and housing are common, as are long term negative effects on people’s physical and mental health and wages. And yet, we spend billions of dollars every year detaining millions of Americans who haven’t yet been to trial, many of whom would be safe to release. (more…)

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com

60% of Inmates in Americas Jails Are Unconvicted, Incarcerated Because They Can't Afford Bail

 

Washington, DC-- With President Obama kicking off a week of engagement on criminal justice reform, experts on pretrial injustice are encouraging the President to look at the front-end of the system to stop the cycle of incarceration in America.

“If President Obama wants to cut mass incarceration, he has to start with our nation’s jails, where more than 60% of inmates haven’t actually been convicted of a crime,” said Cherise Fanno Burdeen, Executive Director of the Pretrial Justice Institute.

“Our jails are full of people incarcerated for poverty-- all because our courts use money, not risk, to determine who stays behind bars for days or even years before trial. We could have a much safer, fairer, and more effective system if the President would take a stand this week for our nation’s courts to use risk instead of cash to determine who we put behind bars. It’s time to end cash bail, and we hope the President joins the growing consensus on the issue this week as he unveils his plans on criminal justice reform.” (more…)

For Immediate Release: July 8, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999, molly@fitzgibbonmedia.com

Pretrial Justice Institute Applauds NYC’s Move to Limit Cash Bail, Urges Gov. Cuomo to Follow Suit in Honor of Now-Deceased Kalief Browder

After more than 45,000 people called upon NY Governor Cuomo to end cash bail statewide, and Pretrial Justice Institute Executive Director Cherise Fanno Burdeen urged the NYC Council to abolish cash bail in hearings on the new city bail fund, Mayor De Blasio has moved toward eliminating cash bail for NYC’s non-violent offenders, as reported by the Associated Press today.

“This is a huge step forward for justice in New York City,” said Cherise Fanno Burdeen, Executive Director of the Pretrial Justice Institute. “We applaud Mayor De Blasio for leading the charge to make risk, and not money, the deciding factor in who stays in jail before trial. Now, we urge Governor Cuomo to follow suit and end cash bail for all of New York state’s low-risk defendants. Cash bail is discriminatory, doesn’t work, and it causes more harm than good. We can’t bring back casualties of cash bail like Kalief Browder or Jerome Murdough, but this move will prevent more tragic stories like theirs.” (more…)