Press Releases

Please direct media inquiries to Fiona Druge at

646.755.6126 or



For Immediate Release: July 11, 2016

Contact: Fiona Druge,, (646) 755-6126


Governor Signs Justice Reinvestment Law with Sweeping Changes to Pretrial Policy

JUNEAU – Today Alaska Governor Bill Walker will sign into law a sweeping criminal justice reform package  that includes key measures to help the state’s pretrial system better serve the people of Alaska. In advancing pretrial reform, Alaska sets an example for other states.  Over 60 percent of people locked up in our nation’s jails have not yet been to trial. As many as nine in ten of these people are stuck behind bars because they are too poor to afford bail for mostly low-level, non-violent charges. Unnecessary pretrial detention is unfair, wastes scarce public resources, makes communities less safe, and is hidden driver of America’s crisis of mass incarceration (research from the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trust, which supported the Alaska reform, shows Alaska’s pretrial population rose by over 80% in just the past decade). This new law ensures more taxpayer resources are funneled toward addressing violent crime rather than detaining people who do not pose a threat to public safety.

Pretrial reforms in the law include: (more…)


For Immediate Release: June 7, 2016

Contacts: Fiona Druge,, (646) 755-6126


Maryland Provides Blueprint for Other States

A Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) report released today by the Abell Foundation documents recent, yet incomplete, efforts to reform pretrial criminal justice practice in Maryland and offers a practical path to achieve, once and for all, a safer, fairer, and more effective response to people accused of crime. Finishing the Job: Modernizing Maryland’s Bail System brings together recommendations from two state-level initiatives that focused on bail reform and presents a clear sequence of steps for implementing their recommendations.

Lawmakers in Maryland—like those in many states—have struggled to agree on what do about jails filled with people awaiting trial and ballooning budgets associated with unnecessary pretrial detention. Since 2013, when a state court ruled in Richmond v. DeWolfe that all criminal defendants must have legal representation at their first court appearance—where bail is set and liberty is at jeopardy—leaders have looked for ways to meet their constitutional obligation while also operating systems that are both safe and efficient. As part of that effort, two separate state-level bodies have studied the disparities and dangers of current money bail practices and recommended solutions. Despite significant commitment and agreement about what needs to be done, those solutions, which are in line with reforms recently realized or being considered in other states, have not yet been implemented. (more…)


For Immediate Release: June 1, 2016
Contacts: Fiona Druge,, (646) 755-6126 – Pretrial Justice Institute Dana Gutierrez,, (671) 300-9282 – Judiciary of Guam

Pretrial Justice Institute’s 3DaysCountTM Campaign Offers Path to Smaller Jail Populations and Greater Public Safety


Hagatna, Guam — Chief Justice Robert J. Torres of the Judiciary of Guam and Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), today announced that Guam is joining 3DaysCountTM, a national campaign to make pretrial justice safer, fairer, and more effective. The campaign will focus on improving pretrial justice laws and court rules—the crucial structures that support good criminal justice policies from the point of arrest to when cases are resolved. Guam is the first jurisdiction to announce its participation in 3DaysCount, which will support commonsense state- and territory-level reform aimed at improved public safety and better outcomes for systems and people.

“Acceptance as the inaugural member into 3DaysCount means we will receive support to promote commonsense solutions to longstanding pretrial justice system challenges that discriminate against the poor, fail to protect individual and community safety and squander public resources,” said Justice Torres. (more…)


For Immediate Release: May 18, 2016

Contact: Fiona Druge,, (646) 755-6126


Leaders and Policy Experts Call for Pretrial Reforms

Washington, DC—Three research studies released this month further confirm the ineffective, discriminatory, and unsafe influence of money bail in U.S. criminal justice systems. Most people in American jails—more than 6 in 10—have not yet been to trial; the vast majority are there because they can’t afford their bail. Emerging research further demonstrates the need to replace our counterproductive use of money bail with safer, fairer, and more effective systems based on risk.

The Heavy Costs of High Bail: Evidence from Judge Randomization, a Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper by Arpit Gupta, Christopher Hansman, and Ethan Frenchman, describes how assigning money bail to people accused of crime in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh increases the likelihood of conviction by 12% and increases recidivism by 4%. The authors found that the use of money bail is not effective – it “does not seem to increase the probability that a defendant appears at trial,” and actually makes us all less safe. (more…)


For Immediate Release: April 13, 2016

Contact: Fiona Druge,, (646) 755-6126


Foundation giving local justice systems the resources to help reduce their jail populations

Washington, DC —The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today nearly $25 million in additional funding to support reform in a selection of local justice systems across the country as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, issued the following statement about the announcement:

“Today, the MacArthur Foundation made another significant investment to reduce jail populations and address racial disparities in local justice systems through its groundbreaking Safety and Justice Challenge. The Safety and Justice Challenge recognizes that jails are the gateways to prisons, and that any effort to reduce the national problem of mass incarceration must start with local solutions at the front end of the justice system, such as the support the initiative will provide to help Philadelphia increase pretrial releases and create alternatives to money bail. The Pretrial Justice Institute is proud to serve as the convener of the Safety and Justice Challenge sites and we’re pleased to see the initiative continue to drive momentum for reform of our country’s local justice systems. These efforts are part of an expanding national movement that includes our 3DaysCount campaign, which is helping to set a new national standard of pretrial justice by working at the state level to advance commonsense pretrial solutions like replacing unfair and discriminatory money bail with safer, fairer, and more effective pretrial release decisions based on risk. We welcome others to join in advancing this important work.” (more…)