Press Releases

Please direct media inquiries to Fiona Druge at

646.755.6126 or



For Immediate Release: March 15, 2016

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


Department of Justice urges state court judges to reform fines, fees and money bail system that unfairly punishes the poor 


Washington, DC— In a letter to state court judges and administrators released yesterday, the Department of Justice called on states to avoid using the court system as a money-making venture and to curb pretrial policies that keep nonviolent offenders trapped in a cycle of debt and unnecessary incarceration. The letter, authored by Vanita Gupta, the Department’s top civil rights prosecutor, and Lisa Foster, Director of the Office for Access to Justice, specifically urges states to consider transitioning away from pretrial justice systems based on money bail alone towards more effective pretrial risk assessment programs.

Following the release of the Department of Justice’s letter, Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday, the Department of Justice brought an authoritative voice to the growing movement  to reform money bail systems in states across the nation. We’ve seen rampant unnecessary jail time in Ferguson, Baltimore, and thousands of other places as a result of money bail and the use fees and fines to pad municipal budgets. (more…)


For Immediate Release: March 9, 2016
Contact: Fiona Druge,, (646) 755-6126

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court highlighted the need for reform in her annual State of the Judiciary address this week  

Sacramento, CA—During the state of California’s annual State of the Judiciary address today, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court called for reform of the bail system and put a spotlight the state’s efforts to develop alternatives to holding people on bail, declaring, “We need more pretrial release programs to balance safety against the need to post bail. We must not penalize the poor for being poor.” In her remarks, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye highlighted the California state court system’s new programs in 12 local courts to place nonviolent people under supervision after arrest, rather than holding them in jail awaiting bail.

Following Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s address, Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, issued the following statement:



For Immediate Release: February 24, 2016

Contact: Robin Campbell,, 917.434.6343


Washington, DC -- Federal legislation is being introduced today that will end the use of money bail throughout the United States. The historic No More Money Bail Act of 2016, proposed by Congressman Ted Lieu (CA - 33), would prohibit the use of money bail in the federal justice system and also deny Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants to any state that continues to use monetary payment as a condition of pretrial release.

Cherise Fanno Burdeen, executive director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, issued the following statement in support of the No More Money Bail Act of 2016:

“The Pretrial Justice Institute enthusiastically supports this legislation because America needs overarching bail reform. All across this nation, too many nonviolent people are stuck in jail pretrial because they are too poor to post money bail. (more…)


For Immediate Release: January 26, 2016
Contact: Robin Campbell,, 917.434-6343


Washington, DC — In an Op-Ed published in today's Washington Post, President Obama condemns the rampant use of solitary confinement in United States jails and prisons. As an example he cites the case of Kalief Browder, a young man who spent nearly two years in solitary confinement in New York City's Rikers Island jail facility only to see the original charges against him dropped.  Browder, who took his own life soon after his release, was in jail pretrial because he could not afford a $3000 money bail.  

The Pretrial Justice Institute issued the following statement in response to the president’s Op-Ed, from executive director Cherise Fanno Burdeen:

“But for the broken bail system in New York, Kalief Browder would not have been in jail in the first place and would never have seen a solitary confinement cell.”

“President Obama is right to condemn the rampant use of solitary confinement, but the original sin against Kalief Browder was requiring him to pay money in order to be released from jail while his case was pending.  

“The U.S. money bail system punishes the poor, keeping lower risk people in jail where their lives get destabilized, making them more likely to commit crimes once released—while wealthy defendants, including many who are dangerous, walk free.   (more…)


For Immediate Release: December 10, 2015

Contact: Christina DiPasquale,, 202.716.1953

Ex-husband Had Been Released on Bail After a History of Violence Against Her

Yesterday, Zeljka Sekulic, an Ohio mother of two, was shot to death outside of her job at Astoria Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation facility in Canton. Following a five-hour manhunt, her ex-husband was arrested in connection with the crime. He had been released from jail and was awaiting trial for leaving his ex-wife injured in a car crash less than two weeks earlier. He reportedly secured his release by paying a bail bondsman $10,000--ten percent of a $100,000 bond.

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

“A woman died because a judge hoped $100,000 bail would be enough to keep her dangerous ex-husband in jail. It wasn’t.

"Our hearts go out to Zeljka Sekulic’s two children, who lost their mother, allegedly shot to death by her ex-husband who had a documented history of violence against her over the previous year. The judge’s guess that a payment of $100,000 would keep him in custody, or keep him in line if he paid his way out, was a tragic mistake that underscores the inherent failings of cash bail and the need to make detention decisions based on risk, not money. (more…)