Take Action Where You Live

Concerned community members can urge elected officials and justice system stakeholders to take action to improve the pretrial system—your voice can help make the difference.

To communicate your interest:
1Connect with others in your area who care about criminal justice.

This might include American Civil Liberties Union state chapters or civil rights organizations, a church or business group, or a group representing affected families. If you cannot find such an organization, consider hosting an educational event, such as a public talk at a library with criminal justice representatives. You can also hold a showing of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th (one-time free screenings are permitted).

View the Documentary
2Observe your court in action through a court-watching effort.

In Cook County, Ill., and in Maryland, court observers have been able to document what happens to people before trial. If you would like to organize your own court observation project, here is a PJI webcast on the subject, along with a template for court observation.

View the Courtroom First Appearance Observation Template
3Attend public forums for people running for elected positions.

District attorneys, sheriffs, and judges may run for office in your jurisdiction; ask about their positions on the use of money bail, detention, and diversion from jail. Many professional organizations have established positions calling for the abolition of money bail or for the end of detention due to inability to afford bail. These groups include the:

4Urge your county to participate in data-collection efforts.

Without data, it is impossible to know how a criminal justice system is functioning or what areas should be improved. Measures for Justice is one initiative that collects justice system data that will allow for county-to-county comparisons. Data gathering has allowed Yakima County, Wash., to track its decrease in pretrial detention as a result of pretrial improvements and to identify ways to improve court appearance rates.

5Encourage your local government body to support the 3DaysCount Resolution to improve pretrial justice.

3DaysCount is named for the short amount of time it can take for pretrial detention to upend lives. This resolution presents a vision of pretrial justice that creates safer and more just communities.Polls show that voters want these solutions. Your county or organization can encourage your state to pursue commonsense pretrial solutions by signing on to the 3DaysCount resolution. More information is available on the University of Pretrial.