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Pretrial - Detention Impacts

This study's aim is to "shed more light on what the impact of pretrial detention may be on several non-Criminal Justice related outcomes. If we can gain a better understanding of the effects of pretrial detention, even detention for relatively short periods (e.g., less than three days), policy regarding risk-based decisions can be informed. Likewise there is benefit in further examining the “more than” vs. “less than” three days of pretrial incarceration in light of recent research that has already influenced policy in many parts of the U.S." (p. 3). It seems that pretrial detention "leads to varying levels of disruption across several indicators of functionality – specifically employment, financial situation, residential stability, and issues relating to dependent children" (p. 12).

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"The Smart on Crime initiative, announced by the Department of Justice (Department) in August 2013, highlighted five principles to reform the federal criminal justice system by, among other things, ensuring just punishments for low level, non-violent offenders. Smart on Crime encouraged federal prosecutors in appropriate cases involving non-violent offenders to consider alternatives to incarceration such as pretrial diversion and diversion-based court programs where appropriate. Pretrial diversion and diversion-based court programs are alternatives to prosecution or incarceration that enable certain low-level and non-violent offenders to be diverted from traditional criminal justice proceedings, with the result being that the offender may receive no conviction or be sentenced to a lesser or no term of incarceration. Officials of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) told us that, while the Smart on Crime initiative contemplates greater use of diversion programs nationally, it does not mandate that each U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) increase the use of diversion regardless of other priorities or local circumstances."

"Between fiscal years 1995 and 2010, the number of defendants with cases disposed in federal district courts increased by 120%, from 45,635 in 1995 to 100,622 in 2010 (figure 1). For this report, a defendant is a person with a case disposed in the federal courts, while a disposition involves the act of terminating the defendant’s case through guilty plea or trial conviction, dismissal, or acquittal (see Methodology). From 1995 to 2010, the percentage of federal defendants who were detained pretrial increased from 59% to 76%."

"Politicians across the spectrum have begun advocating for criminal justice reforms to reduce the prison population in the United States. Until recently, the dysfunctional bail process has not been at the forefront of the national discussion, even though the most common form of bail — cash bonds or financial release — produces jail overcrowding and fuels mass incarceration. In addition, money-based bail systems cause significant racial and ethnic disparities in pretrial detention and beyond. As Judge Andre Davis recently observed, “Many of the racial and ethnic disparities that appear at the back end of the criminal justice system are actually a byproduct of those that become apparent at the front end” — including at the pretrial stages."

Police in America arrest millions of people each year, and the likelihood that arrest will lead to jail incarceration has increased steadily. Ending mass incarceration and repairing its extensive collateral consequences thus must begin by focusing on the front end of the system: police work. Recognizing the roughly 18,000 police agencies around the country as gatekeepers of the system, this report explores the factors driving mass enforcement, particularly of low-level offenses; what police agencies could do instead with the right community investment, national and local leadership, and officer training, incentives, and support; and policies that could shift the policing paradigm away from the reflexive use of enforcement, which unnecessarily criminalizes people and leads directly to the jailhouse door.

"Each time a person is arrested and accused of a crime, a decision must be made as to whether the accused person, known as the defendant, will be detained in jail awaiting trial or will be released back into the community. But pretrial detention is not simply an either-or proposition; many defendants are held for a number of days before being released at some point before their trial. The release-and-detention decision takes into account a number of different concerns, including protecting the community, the need for defendants to appear in court, and upholding the legal and constitutional rights afforded to accused persons awaiting trial. It carries enormous consequences not only for the defendant but also for the safety of the community" (p. 3). This study examines the relationship between pretrial detention and sentencing. Sections following an executive summary include: introduction; sample description; and findings for eight research questions regarding the relations between pretrial detention and sentencing. Defendants who are detained for the entire pretrial period are three times more likely to be sentenced to jail or prison and to receive longer jail and prison sentences.

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"Not everybody who is incarcerated in a prison or jail has been convicted. Many people are held in jail before their trial, and are referred to in the Handbook as “pretrial detainees.” As a pretrial detainee, most of the legal standards explained in the above sections apply to you."

"States provide most defendants the opportunity for release prior to trial. Pretrial detention is limited to only those charged with the most serious crimes and other specified circumstances such as violating conditions of, or committing a new crime while on pretrial release."

"Around the world, millions are effectively punished before they are tried. Legally entitled to be considered innocent and released pending trial, many accused are instead held in pretrial detention, where they are subjected to torture, exposed to life threatening disease, victimized by violence, and pressured for bribes. It is literally worse than being convicted: pretrial detainees routinely experience worse conditions than sentenced prisoners. The suicide rate among pretrial detainees is three times higher than among convicted prisoners, and ten times that of the outside community. Pretrial detention harms individuals, families, and communities; wastes state resources and human potential; and undermines the rule of law … Presumption of Risk examines the full consequences of the global overuse of pretrial detention. Combining statistical analysis, first-person accounts, graphics, and case studies of successful reforms, the report is the first to comprehensively document this widespread but frequently ignored form of human rights abuse." Sections following the Executive Summary and Recommendations are: introduction; the scope of pretrial detention around the world—its extent and cost; who the world's pretrial detainees are; circumstances of detention and impact on detainees and their communities; the causes of arbitrary and excessive use of pretrial detention; the implications for the rule of law; reducing the arbitrary and excessive use of pretrial detention; and conclusion.

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"California’s persistently overcrowded jails are facing additional challenges now that public safety realignment has shifted many lower-level offenders from state prisons to county supervision. Jail capacity challenges are prompting a reconsideration of California’s heavy reliance on holding unsentenced defendants in jail pending trial—known as pretrial detention. The legal rationale for pretrial detention is to ensure court appearances and preserve public safety. But California’s high rates of pretrial detention have not been associated with lower rates of failure to appear or lower levels of felony rearrests. This report concludes that pretrial services programs—if properly implemented and embraced by the courts, probation, and the jails—could address jail overcrowding and improve the efficiency, equability, and transparency of pretrial release decision making."


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