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PJI Receives $1M Grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance

Pretrial Justice Institute

10/19/2023

The Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) is proud to announce we have received critical grant funding from the Department of Justice to support the implementation of a Willful Flight standard. The Department announced more than 3,700 grants nationwide to support community safety, including a million-dollar grant to PJI and our research partner, Strength in Numbers Consulting Group (SiNGC), that will support design, implementation, and evaluation of a Willful Flight standard of bail decision-making in a local jurisdiction.

There is growing recognition in the pretrial field that people miss court dates for a variety of reasons, and someone who fails to appear is usually not fleeing prosecution. With this funding, PJI will work with a local jurisdiction to explore the impact of changing bail criteria to consider the likelihood of willful flight, rather than any failure to appear, when making release decisions.

PJI hypothesizes that the Willful Flight standard will result in greater rates of pretrial release without the negative impact of monetary conditions or unnecessary incarceration including the likelihood of committing future crime. This will have a ripple effect on their families and communities — particularly communities of color — who will experience the long-term benefit of people remaining safely at home.

With a Willful Flight standard, people are likely to be released at greater rates and avoid long-term negative impacts of pretrial incarceration, including the likelihood of committing future crime. This will have a ripple effect on their families and communities — particularly communities of color — who will experience the long-term benefit of people remaining safely at home.

“If our expectations prove correct, this pilot project could have wide-ranging effects, like fewer people detained on unaffordable money bonds or FTA warrants, fewer difficult choices between familial and work responsibilities and fulfilling court obligations, and better outcomes for people and communities,” said Meghan Guevara, one of PJI’s Executive Partners. “We’re thrilled to have the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s support and funding on this project.”

PJI IS SEEKING A PILOT SITE FOR THIS WORK!

The pilot jurisdiction will:

  • Engage a cross-section of system and community stakeholders, with an emphasis on people with lived experience.

  • Collaboratively develop a Willful Flight standard and pilot implementation policy, including creating data infrastructure.

  • Test the policy at bail determinations for 15-18 months, and evaluate its impact on release decisions, racial disparities, court appearance, and public safety outcomes.

  • Receive training, technical support, and data analysis from PJI and SiNCG.

If you’d like to be considered as being pilot site for this work, visit our overview page. To learn more about Willful Flight, check out PJI’s recent publication and roundtable.

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