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First Appearance | April 2023

April 30, 2023

NCSL in Tulsa 

NCSL’s Criminal and Civil Justice team, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, hosted a small group of lawmakers in Tulsa, Okla., last week. Attendees met with local officials, learned about connections between housing and incarceration, and toured facilities that provide access to community supports and services for justice-involved individuals. 

New Mexico Among States Easing Burden of Court Fines and Fees 

A statewide survey of New Mexicans found that 80% had to choose between paying fees and fines or going without basic necessities at some point. Many individuals unable to pay fines and fees in full satisfied a portion by serving time in jail instead. Learn more about what New Mexico and other states are doing to address legal financial obligations. 

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Summit Spotlight: The Long and Short From the Supreme Court 

In the most recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a pile of cases on issues that impact state legislatures, including the independent state legislatures theory, redistricting, student debt and affirmative action. And there's more excitement to come! Join us Aug. 14-16 at the NCSL Legislative Summit as we dive into these issues and more!  

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The Cache

In the News

  • new report from North Carolina shows that half the people incapable to stand trial wait longer than 300 days in jail with limited access to treatment before being assigned a hospital bed. At least a dozen states have been sued for holding individuals in jail for an unreasonable amount of time. A session at NCSL’s Legislative Summit on Aug. 14 will cover collaborative efforts between courts and legislatures to address the crisis.  
  • Data from jurisdictions participating in the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge pushes back against narratives linking violent crime to recent reforms. The new data shows that efforts to reduce jail populations are not connected to increases in crime in participating jurisdictions. In one South Dakota jurisdiction, Rapid City Chief of Police Don Hedrick released early 2023 crime statistics noting that “crime in general is trending down.” Hedrick also provided context, noting that the use of partnerships to address community needs on lower-level calls for service has freed up time for officers to take a more proactive approach to crime. 
  • Wisconsin voters approved an amendment to the state constitution last month allowing judges to consider past convictions for violent crimes when setting bail for people charged with violent crimes. Courts are also authorized to set pretrial conditions aimed at protecting public safety.  
  • A circuit court judge and prosecutor teamed up in Jefferson County, Ala., to create an amnesty week, allowing people to clear outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court and address fines for nonappearance. The five-day event is just one of many solutions being proposed across the country to remedy the issue of failing to appear in court.  

Former Gov. Chris Christie Leads Bipartisan Discussion on Success of New Jersey’s Risk-Based Bail 

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led a bipartisan discussion on the success of his state’s risk-based bail system. About 300 people, including sheriffs, prosecutors, judges and legislators, attended the event at the Christie Institute for Public Policy.  

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