First Appearance


From the States

  • At NCSL’s Legislative Summit, attendees heard from champions leading their states’ criminal justice reform efforts in Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Nevada. You can watch the panel—moderated by REFORM Alliance CEO and CNN political commentator Van Jones—and hear the “lessons learned” from state lawmakers.
  • NCSL Summit attendees also learned about state efforts to improve outcomes for justice-involved young adults (ages 18 to 24). Learn more about the distinct needs of young adults and innovative justice system responses in NCSL’s new report: “The Legislative Primer Series on Front-End Justice: Young Adults in the Justice System.
  • The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, created through executive order 2019-10, recently met for the first time in July. The meeting included a presentation on jail population trends that showed that Michigan jail populations have nearly tripled in the last 35 years and that, currently, rural counties hold more people in jail than urban areas.
  • Oregon lawmakers recently created a new state grant program aimed at “Improving People’s Access to Community-based Treatment, Supports, and Services.” Under S.B. 973, grants may be awarded to counties and tribes to establish evidence-based programs to reduce criminal justice involvement of individuals with behavioral health issues.
  • Five counties will split $2.5 million in state grant funds appropriated by the New Mexico Legislature (H.B. 2). Grant funds will be used to improve behavioral health services in jails and provide crisis intervention training for law enforcement and detention center personnel.
  • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) recently signed S.B. 880 into law. The legislation is touted as making the “Constitution State” the first in the country to mandate collection of prosecutorial data. Data to be collected includes information on diversion programs, plea agreements, nonjudicial sanctions, and court fines and fees.

The Cache

In the News

  • California State Senator Nancy Skinner introduced a bill called the “Getting Home Safe Act.” The bill (S.B. 42) aims to prevent late-night jail releases when transportation options are limited and safety is a concern for releasees. Opponents say a new law isn’t necessary and is problematic because it could keep persons in custody longer than authorized.
  • Officials in Harris County, Texas, have agreed to a settlement regarding misdemeanor bail practices (which were held unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2017). Subject to federal court approval, the proposed settlement requires most misdemeanor pretrial defendants to be released automatically and without any financial conditions of release. In addition, the proposal seeks more indigent defense services and access to social workers and requires assignment of a court monitor to ensure compliance.
  • The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a new Criminal Justice Action Kit. The action kit highlights justice-involved individuals’ increased risk for chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, mental health conditions and diabetes, and offers resources for health providers.
  • Nationally, attention is being paid to policies that help appropriate individuals with behavioral health needs avoid justice involvement. The upcoming Police, Treatment and Community Collaborative Training Conference will have resources for communities on starting and sustaining pre-arrest deflection programs.
  • A new criminal justice think tank—the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ)—seeks to generate “bold policy roadmaps.” In this op-ed, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) and former-California Governor Jerry Brown (D) join forces—as members of the new CCJ—to “push forward with nonpartisan purpose toward a criminal justice system worthy of our nation.”
  • Listen in! Listen to Jordan Richardson’s Ted talk discussing criminal justice reform and innovative solutions that don’t involve changing the law.
  • Watch! Learn about California’s largest mental institution—the Los Angeles County Jail, and how lawmakers and others are struggling to help individuals with mental illnesses.

Links to external websites and reports are for information purposes only and do not indicate NCSL’s endorsement of the content.

This newsletter was created with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, which seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.