For Immediate Release: June 22, 2017
Contact: Fiona Druge, Pretrial Justice Institute, email@example.com, (646) 755-6126; Lorrie Thompson, Administrative Office of the Courts, (360) 705-5347
SEATAC, WA — Members of the Washington state judiciary and Cherise Fanno Burdeen, chief executive officer of the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), today announced that Washington state is forming a Pretrial Reform Task Force and will partner with PJI through 3DaysCount™, PJI’s national campaign to make pretrial justice in America safer, fairer, and more effective. The announcement was made at the kick-off meeting of the Task Force, a joint effort by the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission, the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association, and the Superior Court Judges’ Association to evaluate the state’s pretrial justice system.
Washington joins other pretrial reform leaders and 3DaysCount members Connecticut, Guam, and Illinois to focus on evaluating proven, evidence-based improvements in pretrial justice—the phase of the criminal justice system that extends from first contact with law enforcement to resolution of any resulting charges.
“The Pretrial Justice Institute is delighted to work with Washington on its pretrial reform efforts through 3DaysCount,” said PJI Vice President Rachel Sottile Logvin, who traveled to Washington for the event. “Several jurisdictions in the state have already shown tremendous leadership in improving their pretrial justice systems, including Yakima County, which is part of PJI’s Smart Pretrial Initiative. Washington state is adding momentum to a nationwide effort that is creating safer communities, better outcomes for people who come in contact with law enforcement, and more effective use of scarce public resources. We look forward to working with members of Washington’s Pretrial Reform Task Force and others in the state to realize these important outcomes.”
“Every day across Washington state, trial judges make decisions regarding pretrial release or detention that have consequences for our communities and for people accused of crimes. The Pretrial Reform Task Force will assess the quality of the information judges have to make those decisions,” said Judge Sean P. O’Donnell, President of the Superior Court Judges’ Association. “The Task Force will also evaluate ways to minimize the impact of pretrial detention on low risk offenders by exploring safe and cost-effective alternatives to full incarceration.”
“Having access to empirical evidence can assist judges in the difficult task of making informed release decisions,” said Spokane Municipal Court Judge Mary Logan, President of the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association. “It could curb over-incarceration pretrial if we are able to make those decisions better informed with a multitude of readily available tools such as risk assessments.”
“We have to provide a broad menu of tools that will enable judges to presume release and accurately assess the risk an individual poses. The social cost of pre-adjudication incarceration merits our attention. We are gathering all of the stakeholders to explore options,” said Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, Co-Chair of the Minority & Justice Commission.”
The Pretrial Justice Institute is a nationally recognized resource for legal and evidence-based solutions to common pretrial justice challenges. As part of its 3DaysCount campaign, PJI will work with up to 20 participating states or territories to realize three specific goals by the year 2020:
PJI will also support participating 3DaysCount sites by leading a national action campaign to directly engage communities in calling for transparency and needed change in the pretrial justice system.
About Money Bail & Unnecessary Pretrial Incarceration:
Today, nearly half a million legally innocent people are held in U.S. in jails at an aggregate annual cost to taxpayers of nearly $14 billion. Most of these men and women could be released to await trial in the community and be counted on to appear in court and not be rearrested while they handle their case. They remain detained solely because they are unable to afford money bail. It is unfair to hold a poor person in jail while another person who poses a similar risk level can pay money and be released. It is also unsafe. Research shows that as little as three days in jail can destabilize the things we know make people low risk: jobs and housing, education and health care, and family support and connections. Moreover, current money bail systems threaten public safety—under the existing money bail system nearly half of the highest-risk people are able to to purchase their freedom without any meaningful supervision by the courts.
About the Pretrial Justice Institute:
Since 1977 the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) has been a national resource for policy makers at the federal, state and local levels. PJI’s core purpose is to advance safe, fair, and effective juvenile and adult pretrial justice practices and policies that honor and protect all people. We work to achieve this by monitoring the state of and advocating for pretrial justice in America; convening, educating, and supporting stakeholders to transform their colleagues and systems; and demonstrating that change is possible by working directly with jurisdictions on implementation.
For more information about PJI and 3DaysCount, visit www.pretrial.org and www.pretrial.org/3DaysCount. More information about the Smart Pretrial Initiative is at https://www.pretrial.org/smartpretrial.