First Appearance


from the states

  • NCSL recently updated our 50-state resource on laws that authorize law enforcement officers to issue citations requiring a defendant’s appearance in court instead of making a custodial arrest. The use of citations can help alleviate overcrowding in local jails by avoiding the booking and pretrial release process for defendants who pose little risk to public safety and who are likely to come to court. All states allow the use of citations for misdemeanor or petty offenses and at least eight states permit citations for some felonies.
  • The Washington Pretrial Reform Task Force, convened by the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission, the Superior Court Judges’ Association and the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association examined pretrial practices in the state and recently issued its final recommendations on the issues of pretrial services, risk assessments and data collection. The Office of the Washington State Auditor also released a report recognizing the “tremendous opportunity” for jurisdictions opting to expand pretrial services.
  • Delaware’s Attorney General just released new internal guidance and charging policies for the state’s Department of Justice, which is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases statewide. The new guidance encourages the use of diversion, eliminates zero-tolerance conditions for individuals seeking drug, alcohol or mental health treatment, encourages sentencing alternatives and creates a presumptive bail request of release on recognizance or unsecured bond for most misdemeanors.

the cache

in the news

  • In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause applies to the states. In Timbs v. Indiana, the trial court had initially held that seizure of Timbs’ $42,000 Land Rover was unconstitutional because the maximum statutory fine in his case was only $10,000, a decision now supported by the high court’s decision.
  • A bipartisan group of Michigan legislators introduced a package of pretrial reform bills that “aim to drop the price tag on the presumption of innocence.” The American Bail Coalition opposes the proposed legislation, saying it rewards criminals and dismisses victims.
  • Delaware lawmakers plan to introduce 19 criminal justice reform bills. Included among them are fines and fees reform. The state’s attorney general supported the legislative package calling it “the boldest criminal justice reforms in modern state history.”
  • Reforms aimed at discovery and cash bail in New York have come up against opposition. Prosecutors oppose the legislative proposals citing public safety concerns. Supporters refute this contention, arguing the legislation contains the needed safeguards.
  • South Carolina lawmaker and prosecutor Senator Sandy Senn (R) is running a bill aimed at holding people accountable for crimes committed on pretrial release. She’s concerned the current system “makes it too easy for the really bad people to get out of jail.” 
  • Two differing use-of-force bills (AB 392 and SB 230) are in the news after it was announced that charges will not be brought against the California police officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark last year.
  • In Massachusetts, the governor is asking lawmakers to expand the list of offenses that trigger a pretrial detention “dangerousness” hearing.
  • The Texas governor is backing a bill that would place decisions regarding pretrial risk assessment tools in his office. Identical bipartisan bills introduced last month would place that authority with the state’s Office of Court Administration.
  • The Supportive Release Center in Chicago offers a “soft landing” for individuals being released from Cook County Jail. Upon release, individuals are transported to the center where they are offered an overnight stay, a shower, food and clean clothes before being linked to services and care coordination.
  • Here’s a look at the long-term consequences of not being able to afford financial bail—from unemployment to future crimes.
  • Arnold Ventures announced $48 million in grant funding for the launch of the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice, which support research, innovative policy development, and advocacy aimed at reforming pretrial justice systems.
  • ICYMI! Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were among those implicated in a college admission bribing scheme. Learn how this scandal highlights the issue of financial inequities in higher education and pretrial release.  
  • Listen in! Starting with Stability: How Denver is Breaking the Homelessness-Jail Cycle.
  • Watch! Finding Justice: The Cause and Effect of Cash Bail.

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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.