Pretrial Justice Advocates Applaud National Association of Counties Resolution

 

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2017
Contact: Fiona Druge, fiona.druge@berlinrosen.com, (646) 755-6126; NAPSA, Jim Sawyer, Executive Director, (202) 957-4250

Largest National Association of County Governments (NACo) Unites in Call for Use of Pretrial Risk Assessment & Elimination of Commercial Bail Bonding Industry

Washington DC – At their February 27th annual Legislative Conference, the National Association of Counties (NACo) adopted a policy resolution supporting further improvements to county and state level pretrial justice systems to ensure no one is incarcerated solely because they cannot afford to buy their freedom. Citing the demands of due process and equal protection, NACo called on the U.S. Department of Justice to advise counties and states to make seven concrete improvements, including the adopting pretrial risk assessment and the elimination commercially secured bonds. 

In response to NACo’s resolution, leaders of the Pretrial Justice Institute and the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies issued the following statements:

"NACo has taken an important step in affirming the value of risk assessment and pretrial services for county governments,” said Cherise Fanno Burdeen, chief executive officer of the Pretrial Justice Institute. “Counties are directly impacted by the costs and outcomes of pretrial justice practices. Money bail causes poor and working class people to be detained solely for lack of money—which is both unfair and expensive. In contrast, risk assessment results in fairer release decisions and more effective use of county resources, since only higher risk people will be in jail—which also happens to be good for public safety.”

"NACo's prioritization of risk-based pretrial release decisions provides much-needed clarity to county officials and their pretrial services staff,” said Penny Stinson, President of the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies. “By acknowledging the necessity of moving away from money-based release decisions and adopting tools that allow courts to make decisions based on risk, NACo has underscored the fact that this is a fundamental feature of good government that county officials should embrace.”

Specifically NACo urged the Department of Justice to advise that all county or state pretrial justice systems:

  1. Promote and support the adoption of evidence-based risk assessment completed prior to initial appearance and risk management strategies in setting of non-monetary and least onerous conditional release bail determination;
  2. Eliminate practices that cause defendants to remain incarcerated even for a few days solely because they cannot afford to pay for their release;
  3. Call for the elimination of commercially secured bonds at any time during the pretrial phase;
  4. Call for the shift from secured to unsecured money bond at any time during the pretrial phase;
  5. Promote and support the practice of least restrictive graduated conditions of release which can be adjusted according to the compliance or non-compliance of the individual;
  6. Call for the ability of every judge to conduct a preventive detention hearing with full due process protections so that detention eligible defendants are detained under accepted evidentiary standards;
  7. Promote judicial training and development that addresses how best practices and identifying sources of implicit bias can reduce racial and gender disparities.

Facts about money bail and pretrial detention in America:

  • Most people in American jailsmore than 6 in 10have not yet been to trial; the vast majority are there because they can’t afford money bail.
  • More than 80% of criminal defendants qualify for indigent defense based on poverty.
  • Even three days in jail can result in loss of wages, jobs, housing, and family connections, leaving lower risk defendants 40% more likely to commit future crime.
  • Nearly half of higher risk defendants exploit the money bail system and use bail bondsmen to get out.
  • The tools exist to replace the outdated cash bail system with a risk-based system that is safe, fair, and effective, and many jurisdictions have demonstrated it is possible.

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The Pretrial Justice Institute is a national organization working to advance safe, fair, and effective pretrial justice that honors and protects all people.

To schedule an interview or learn more about The Pretrial Justice Institute, please contact Fiona Druge at Fiona.Druge@berlinrosen.com or (646) 755-6126.

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