Willful flight—when someone intentionally flees prosecution—is a very rare event, and poses little threat to the integrity of the court process. If bail decisions focused on the likelihood that someone will actually flee, and if judicial officers released everyone who did not pose a specific risk of flight, the pretrial process would look very different.
PJI authored a report on the issue, Unpacking Willful Flight: A Call for Equity-centered Reform around Bail Hearings and Missed Court Dates. Then we brought together a roundtable of community advocates, legal scholars and system stakeholders to explore what changes to law, culture and practice are required to adhere to a willful flight standard when considering pretrial detention and release conditions.
During this dynamic, 90-minute event, our panelists covered a range of issues, from Illinois’ new statutory willful flight standard to the need to improve trust between courts and communities. This recap summarizes key themes from the discussion and offers some suggested next steps.