Pretrial Justice Institute
200 East Pratt Street, Suite 4100
Baltimore, MD 21202

(667) 281-9141

Pretrial News 10 Minute Read

What's Happening in Pretrial Justice? Winter 2023

Wendy Shang
Words by
Wendy Shang
Published on
January 10, 2024

Hear hear! Our team is loving Call Declined: A Podcast That Dares to Ask the Tough Questions, hosted by Melissa Beck, executive director of the Sozosei Foundation. The podcast follows the story of Kamisha Thomas and Aimee Wissman, founders of the Returning Artists Guild, whose lives were profoundly transformed in prison after the systems meant to protect and ensure their wellbeing failed them. It’s a compelling, heartfelt listen that asks us to reimagine a world where mental illness, substance use disorder, and poverty are met with empathy, not judgment.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Aimee’s amazing work was also featured in PJI’s Liberated Voices exhibit. Check it out:

Winnable issues in 2024. The Prison Policy Initiative has released its list of high-impact policy ideas for state legislators and advocates who want to change the criminal justice system without making it bigger. Some of our pretrial favorites include: shifting funding to programs that get at the root of criminal legal system involvement; establishing a presumption of pretrial release; properly funding indigent defense; and ending electronic monitoring.

Don’t I know you? A new law review article, Pretrial Justice in Out-of-the-Way Places – Including Rural Communities in the Bail Reform Conversation, looks at some of the unique factors that may play into pretrial reforms, including the likelihood that the judge may know the person accused from outside the courtroom. The article by Jordan Gross, law professor and director of the Rural Justice Initiative at the University of Montana, includes a survey of judges regarding their pretrial practices and use of risk assessments.

Have a real convo about criminal justice. We’ve all been there—a holiday gathering becomes a minefield of misinformation and gritted teeth when loved ones clash over politics or social issues. Fortunately, our friends at La Defensa have come to the rescue with their latest toolkit, Transformative Organizing Conversations. This concise guide not only offers critical talking points on key issues, but offers a way into a more meaningful dialogue by encouraging curiosity and exploring shared values. If you missed this last year, you still have time to shift strategies before your fam’s next big birthday party or barbecue!