First Appearance


From the States

  • Women in jail are currently the fastest growing correctional population in the country. To learn more about justice-involved women, NCSL took a group of legislators and legislative staff to Portland, Ore., where innovative efforts are underway to better address and reverse the trend of this expanding population. Legislators and staff toured two facilities and heard from national experts and local officials on gender-responsive and trauma-informed practices in the criminal justice system. More information on the site visit and related resources can be found here.
  • The Kansas Supreme Court formed a task force to examine pretrial detention practices, policies and alternatives, and develop a best practices model for district courts. The task force chair, Kansas Court of Appeals Chief Judge Karen Arnold-Burger, wants a “fresh look” on pretrial detention. “It’s not a liberal issue, it’s not a conservative issue,” she says. “It’s a criminal justice reform issue.”
  • In California, the referendum to overturn SB 10—the law set to end cash bail next year—has been submitted and is pending signature verification. Find status updates here.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court declined to accept a case challenging New Jersey’s bail system, allowing the federal appeals court ruling to stand. The ruling held there is no constitutional right to cash bail or surety bonds.

The Cache

In the News

  • Bail bond industry groups submitted the required signatures for a statewide referendum that aims to overturn SB 10. In this op-ed, third-generation bail bondsman Bill Armstrong explains why SB 10 is bad for the bail industry, defendants and California taxpayers. Even if the referendum passes, California Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye says change will happen regardless.
  • New Jersey wants other states to follow its bipartisan bail reform efforts. Two years ago, New Jersey all but eliminated the money bail system.  “A Success Story” shares the story of a young man impacted by the law changes.
  • As lawmakers in Oregon and Utah go back into session next month, they face concerns of struggling public defender systems. Utah lawmakers will have the governor’s proposed budget in front of them that would quadruple funding for the state’s underfunded public defense system. In Oregon, lawmakers will be briefed on a report of the state’s public defense system and “the findings are bleak.”
  • Instead of waiting for the federal government to act, two governors step across the aisle to advocate that “the real action” for criminal justice reform should be at the state and local levels—where 90 percent of the nation’s inmates are housed.
  • There’s an app for that. Tulsa County plans to use grant funding to implement a two-way texting app in an effort to reduce failure-to-appear rates. The app provides court date reminders and allows the person to text back and connect with a social worker. The social worker may help the person find a ride to court or secure childcare.
  • “How many DAs have a mug shot?” District attorney-elect Mark Gonzalez framed his 1999 mug shot. He plans to make numerous changes in Nueces County, Texas, when he takes office, including a cite-and-release program.
  • Latino teenagers make up nearly 70 percent of the curfew citations in Denver, but comprise of only 41 percent of the city’s population. City officials say curfew enforcement helps identify youth who need help with other issues, such as family problems or drugs. Others find the numbers perplexing and point to racial and ethnic bias in policing.
  • A new pretrial risk assessment tool, developed in Spokane County, Washington, was ditched after two years of glitches and no substantial reduction in the jail population. The new tool attempted to conduct a holistic evaluation of a defendant that went beyond traditional risk assessment algorithms. A similar fate may befall a risk assessment algorithm that a Pennsylvania state commission has been working on for eight years.
  • Some South Carolina jail inmates have been waiting four years for their cases go to trial. This article discusses the impact of postponed court dates, not just on defendants, but also on victims’ loved ones awaiting justice.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles bailed nine people out of jail for Thanksgiving. In addition to donating bail funds, the team partnered with organization to hold a service fair to link bailees with community resources and social services.
  • The Virginian-Pilot continues its examination of jailing mentally ill individuals with a story on solutions. This article examines approaches taken across the country to address the issue.
  • The Waiting Room takes you to the Southside of Chicago to the stories inside and outside of the Cook County Jail. The largest, single-site jail in the United States houses approximately 6,000 inmates inside its walls.
  • Registration is open for the Pretrial Innovators Convention (Pi-Con) in Denver, March 14-15, 2019. Pi-Con is the “unconventional convention” held every two years by the Pretrial Justice Institute.

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.


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