First Appearance





  • Before leaving office, Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) signed legislation clarifying when videos from law enforcement body and dash cameras are public. H.B. 425 was passed unanimously by both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly. The bill is lauded as a bipartisan effort that “strikes the balance between transparency and privacy.”
  • California’s S.B. 10 is on hold. The state was set to be the first to eliminate the use of cash bail this October. Opponents filed a referendum to prevent the bill from going into effect, and the verification of the required signatures was completed on Jan. 16.  The bill’s co-author, Senator Bob Hertzberg (D), said he’s confident the legislation will survive the challenge.
  • The newly Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature started off on a bipartisan note.  House Speaker Lee Chatfield announced, “Civil asset forfeiture reform will be our first bill because it is a strong, bipartisan reform that safeguards the rights of every single Michigan resident.”  
  • Various stakeholders in Kentucky are seeking pretrial reform to reduce the state’s “skyrocketing” incarceration rates. Nationally, Kentucky ranks second-highest for its female incarceration rates, as well as for rates of children who have experienced parental incarceration.
  • South Dakota’s chief justice is supporting a legislative request for a new judgeship, stating “it is absolutely necessary.” Chief Justice David Gilbertson stressed the heavy toll that substance use addiction places on the state’s judicial system and costs taxpayers—citing a 222 percent increase in the number of drug crimes over a decade.
  • After being sworn into office, newly elected misdemeanor judges in Harris County, Texas, wasted no time. Within a week, they withdrew their predecessors’ appeal in the historic federal court ruling that found the county’s bail practices unconstitutional. The plaintiffs and the county hope to craft their own resolution to the case by Feb. 1.
  • “[T]owering amounts of criminal-justice debt” are landing some in jail for nonpayment, while others may lose their driver’s license. Dubbed the modern-day debtor’s prison, the article examines the reality of court debt and its impact on the lives of citizens in a small town. Meanwhile, in Missouri, action is underway to curb the practice.
  • Criminal justice reforms at the federal level were recently successful. But is it enough? In this op-ed, the author stresses that for real reform, “start locally.”
  • A nonprofit organization is helping ex-offenders find jobs by trying something different. Jails to Jobs assists with typical job-search skills, but it also provides referrals to clinics in 42 states that provide free or low-cost tattoo removal.  By removing anti-social or gang tattoos, they aim to remove visual impediments to getting a job.
  • Listen in! New podcasts from the Center for Court Innovation provide “New Thinking” on The Power of Prosecutors and When Therapy is the Alternative to Incarceration.

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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.