First Appearance

Welcome to the First Appearance! As state interest in front-end justice policy has grown, so have the number of great articles, studies and publications. In an effort to keep you informed, we’ve updated the Pretrial Quarterly with a new name and will be sending it monthly. You don’t need to do a thing, just sit back and read!

From the States

  • The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) published the first report in its Legislative Primer Series for Front-End Justice. The report focuses on people with mental illness and their interactions with the criminal justice system. Learn about state policy options that respond to mental health issues and enhance public safety.  
  • The Georgia Judicial Council Ad Hoc Committee on Misdemeanor Bail Reform released recommendations related to ability-to-pay and individualized bail determinations and citations in lieu of arrest and effective pretrial release. 
  • The Texas Criminal Justice Committee released a report that included recommendations on pretrial reforms ranging from funding pretrial services to a constitutional amendment on presumption of release.
  • The Wisconsin Legislative Council formed an interim Study Committee on Bail and Conditions of Pretrial Release. Testimony at the first meeting highlighted pretrial reforms and evidence-based decision making. NCSL staff provided a nationwide overview of state law and legislation on pretrial release. Listen to NCSL testimony at 47:20

The Cache

In the News

  • Last week, California became the first state to statutorily eliminate cash bail as an option for pretrial release—meaning pretrial detainees can either be released on nonmonetary conditions or detained. While several states have enacted laws discouraging the use of money bail, Senate Bill 10 is the first “to take cash bail off the books.”
  • Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) signed Senate Bill 3023—touted as one of most comprehensive deflection bills to be considered. Signed Aug. 22, the law encourages local law enforcement to "deflect" individuals with substance use problems into treatment, rather than jail. To learn more about deflection, check out this new website.
  • Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) also wants jurisdictions to reduce mental illness in criminal justice system with treatment, not incarceration. Watch “Face-to-Face” to see the governor’s conversation with a man who was diverted to a crisis stabilization unit. 
  • Listen to “70 million,” a new documentary podcast about criminal justice reform in the United Statse, where, incidentally, 70 million adults have a criminal record. Season one will explore the impact of local jails on people and communities.
  • What does no cash bail mean? In "Innocent Until Proven Guilty, But Only if You Can Pay,” two interviewees—Clayton and Karakatsanis—have markedly different views on cash bail, except when it comes to the elimination of cash bail. They both agree no cash bail could lead to an increase in jail detentions.
  • Go big or go home? These authors suggest the way to reduce jail populations in a big way is to expand strategies that include higher-risk populations.
  • Let defendants work” champions using pretrial work release programs for those who are eligible for bail but can’t afford it—allowing those presumed innocent to keep their jobs and contribute to their families and society.

In Memory Of …

  • U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who served his country for 60 years, is being remembered as a bipartisan dealmaker, public servant, patriot and man of conviction and honor. Ideals exemplified by his own words, “Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.” —"Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir”
  • A flashback to the Queen of Soul’s offer to post bail for Angela Davis. “Jail is hell to be in,” Franklin told Jet Magazine, Dec . 3, 1970 (p. 54). Following her death, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to posthumously award Franklin a Congressional Gold Medal that recognizes her philanthropic work to advance “civil rights, human health and gender equality.”

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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.