Defense

  • What the New Jersey Report Shows Us (4/18/2019)

    Six years ago, a major catalyst for pretrial reform in New Jersey came in the form of a report showing that nearly 40 percent of people in jail in New Jersey were there because they could not afford bail. Several years – and a long road – later, New Jersey passed laws to provide sweeping changes to their pretrial justice policies and practices. Since January 1, 2017, when new laws went into effect, we have been watching for the outcomes of these changes, not just in terms of reducing arrests (bookings) and replacing cash bail, but in restricting detention and raising equity. We also needed to see rates of court appearance and public safety – the two purposes of the bail decision. We wanted data from the courts. And now, we have it.

    As a result of expanded use of citations-summons, the jail population has declined significantly. Since 2015, when preparation for pretrial reforms began, the pretrial jail population has fallen by nearly 44 percent. Money bonds have been functionally eliminated and de-facto detention to due an inability to pay has nearly disappeared. The few held for detention hearings are afforded full due process and then some are released with conditions of supervision. In 2018, the rate of pretrial detention was roughly 6 percent, meaning 94 percent of people were able to participate in their defense from home, with family, at their jobs, or in school, where they were best equipped to do so. The appearance rate in 2017, the most recent year cited in the report, was nearly 90 percent, only a slight decrease from before the reform. (more…)


03/06/2019

A Hero Passes But His Vision Remains

Jeff Adachi, the public defender of San Francisco, died suddenly at the age of 59 on February 22. His death sent shock waves through the many […]
09/05/2018

Early Representation = Limiting Detention

Although the Supreme Court has stated that counsel should be present at any “critical stage of trial,” what those stages are, exactly, is left to the […]
07/24/2018

Pretrial Freedom and the Presumption of Innocence

We all have heard of the Boston Tea Party and the phrase, “No taxation without representation.”  But the the rebellion was about more than a perceived […]
07/12/2018

Voters Ready to Change the Default of Pretrial Detention

We don’t like stupid rules at PJI. That’s probably one reason why Inc. magazine recognized us as one of the Best Workplaces of 2018. So when […]
06/26/2018

Small Towns and the Sixth Amendment

Providing adequate counsel is a key challenge to addressing high rates of pretrial detention in rural areas, according to Right on Crime’s recent report, Open Roads […]
04/03/2017

Redefining Incarceration with Lessons for Pretrial Justice

American University’s Justice Programs Office held a summit last week on how the criminal justice community can continue to improve their systems by redefining practices and […]
03/15/2016

Why Three Days Count from a Defender’s Perspective

By Leah Garabedian, Defender Counsel, The National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) 3DaysCount is a critically important campaign that stands to change the lives of millions […]
07/23/2014

Defenders: Advocates for Pretrial Justice

Defenders. The name makes them sound like superheroes. To many people who find themselves facing criminal charges, they are heroes. They are the tireless voice that […]
08/14/2013

Holder Continues Call to Improve Justice System

Two years after his groundbreaking call for pretrial reform, Attorney General Eric Holder continues the quest for safe, fair, and effective justice with a new call for […]