In line with directives from the White House, state authorities, and local officials, criminal justice agencies around the country have modified operations to comply with social distancing, travel restrictions, and mandatory health orders due to COVID-19. These policies have a significant impact on the judiciary, causing courthouse closures, the suspension of jury trials, and the halting or modification of court orders. It has required criminal justice decision makers to swiftly examine their pretrial populations and practices to comply with these modified operations.
In this webinar you will hear from decision makers who were responsible for upholding these recommendations. They will share their challenges and experiences in implementing these directives, as well as the opportunities they found for adopting long- term practice changes that focus on maximizing public safety, court appearances, and release of pretrial defendants.
- Discuss the collaborative efforts among pretrial services, the courts, district attorney’s offices, and jails to manage the pretrial population during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Identify innovative approaches to support defendant court appearance and connection with pretrial service officers.
- Highlight early challenges and opportunities.
- Show how technology is playing a key role in the new normal.
- Provide key resources to the field.
- Greg Crawford, Correctional Program Specialist, National Institute of Corrections
- Lori Eville, Correctional Program Specialist, National Institute of Corrections
- Spurgeon Kennedy, Vice-President, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies
- The Honorable Karen Thomas, Judge, 17th Judicial District of Kentucky
- Tara Boh Blair, Executive Officer, Kentucky Court of Justice, Department of Pretrial Services
- Kevin Burns, Captain, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico
- Krista Lawrence, Division Director, 11th Judicial District and Magistrate Courts, New Mexico
- Jon Tunheim, Prosecuting Attorney, Thurston County District Court, Washington
- Marianne Clear, Director, Thurston County Pretrial Services, Washington
This webinar aired on September 3rd, 2020.
This study examines the effectiveness of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHCJC) in tackling multiple problems that contribute to crime, public safety, and quality of life in the local community. This report has chapters covering: the theoretical foundations and study context; evaluation data and methods; planning RHCJC; organizational structure and staffing; community and youth programs—Housing Court and the Housing Resource Center, youth programs, community programs and public outreach, walk-in services, and resident and offender population perceptions of RHCJC; criminal court processing and sanctioning practices at Red Hook—multi-jurisdictional courtroom, arraignments, criminal case outcomes, summons cases, and offender perceptions of procedural justice; drug treatment cases; Family Court; impact on recidivism and arrests; cost efficiency analysis; and conclusions and observations--principle findings, lessons for policy and practice, implementing community court principles in centralized misdemeanor courts, and priorities for future research on community courts. Appendixes include: Propensity Score Modeling, Criminal Court; Sampling and Propensity Score Matching, Family Court; Impact of Drug Treatment on Two-Year Re-arrests for Specific Charge Types; Change Point Analysis of Red Hook Arrest Series; and Ethnographic Report—The Red Hook Community Justice Center. “This comprehensive evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center demonstrates that a community court can reduce recidivism and achieve other key criminal justice objectives by improving upon the traditional model for processing misdemeanor offenses. Moreover, the evaluation demonstrates that those improvements can be cost-effective from the viewpoint of the taxpayer. These are impressive findings” (p. 189).
This report should be required reading for anyone interested in or developing a domestic violence court. Eleven chapters follow an executive summary: introduction; review of relevant research; research design; domestic violence court goals; history, structure, and staffing; case processing laws and policies; victim safety and services; offender assessments and program mandates; supervision and court responses to noncompliance; additional insights from qualitative analysis; and conclusion and implications. Some major findings include: increasing victim safety is rated “extremely important” by the majority of the domestic violence courts; the majority of courts had dedicated victim advocates; the majority of courts did not assess offenders; and 62% of the courts offered probation supervision to offenders. A "National Compendium of Domestic Violence Courts" is also included.
The use of cost-effective evidence-based practices to reduce offender recidivism, crime rates, and costs is explained. Strategies covered are: establish recidivism reductions as an explicit sentencing goal; provide sufficient flexibility to consider recidivism reduction options; base sentencing decisions on risk/needs assessment; require community corrections programs to be evidence-based; integrate services and sanctions; ensure courts know about available sentencing options; encourage swift and certain responses to probation violations; use court hearings and incentives to motivate offender behavior change; and promote effective collaboration among criminal justice agencies.
This program shows how one community addressed the needs of its justice-involved veterans. “Two and a half million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan; many of them, more than once. The VA tells us about 20 percent come home with post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD. So, that comes to about 500,000. For some, returning is harder than they imagined. The suicide rate for the Army is up 15 percent over last year. For the Marines its up 28 percent. A few of our troops return to become something they never thought they could be: criminals, for the first time in their lives. Around Houston, in Harris County, Texas, 400 veterans are locked up every month. We met a judge there who saw them coming before the bench, fresh out of the warzone and he thought a lot of them were worth saving.”
The past two decades have enhanced our understanding of pretrial risk. We now know that most individuals with pending criminal cases make scheduled court appearances and remain arrest-free as they await trial. When missed court dates occur, they often are not intentional abscondence but rather the result of unintentional or unavoidable circumstances. Further, most new cases filed against pretrial defendants involve misdemeanors and lower-level felony charges, not violent crimes.
However, while we recognize the infrequent and dynamic nature of pretrial misconduct, most justice systems define, and measure missed court appearances using the dated and overly broad “failure to appear” descriptor and view new case filings mostly as serious offenses affecting public safety. The result is an overestimation of defendant risk and overly punitive responses to misconduct.
This publication discusses the nature of pretrial risk, missed court dates, and new case filings. It also proposes more accurate and useful definitions for these events and presents strategies used nationwide to help prevent misconduct or to mitigate it when it occurs.
“The goal of this project is to make existing research and practices accessible while encouraging learners to ask the right questions at the right times and develop productive collaborations and programs that serve the needs of their communities. While the curriculum is presented as a comprehensive resource on how to plan and implement a mental health court, it is also designed to be easily adapted to supplement existing trainings, for new mental health court team members, or as a tune-up for teams that are already in operation. What’s more, the curriculum’s introductory lessons on criminal justice and behavioral health present information that is relevant to any type of collaboration between these two disciplines.” Modules following introductions to behavioral health and criminal justice are: understanding mental health courts; your community, your mental health court; the mental health court team; target population; designing policies and procedures for program participation; case planning; facilitating the success of mental health court participants; and launching and sustaining your program.
Are you looking for some ideas on how to identify potential participants for your veteran drug court? This this is a great place to start. “This FAQ presents a compilation of responses received from veterans court programs to the following question: (1) How do you identify defendants who are veterans and potentially eligible for your veterans court program? (2) Is there any systematic process that has been put in place to screen arrestees to identify those who are veterans?” Attachments to this document are: Veterans Court Criteria (Placer County, CA); Memorandum on the Pretrial Diversion of Veterans (Trial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, District Court Department”; Probation Protocol for Enforcement of Veterans’ Pretrial Diversion Program Pursuant to the Valor Act (MA); and Valor Act Form (MA).
This website explains the important role veterans treatment courts play in the lives of justice-involved veterans. Resources include: Resources for Court Professionals; Dispatches from the Front Line; Veteran Mentors; Mentor Court Program; Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative; Legislation-- pertaining to justice-involved veterans and Veterans Treatment Courts; and Studies and Statistics.
Juvenile Mental Health Courts (JMHCs) provide case management and support to youth in the juvenile justice system with behavioral health needs. These courts focus on treatment and rehabilitation, and help to divert youth from juvenile detention facilities to community-based services in their local systems of care. This website provides a map showing where JMHCs are located within the United States.