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Pretrial News 5 minutes

What's Happening in Pretrial Justice? March 2024

Wendy Shang
Words by
Wendy Shang
Published on
April 05, 2024

Exploring Public Safety in Chi-Town. A collaborative project between the National Black Public Defender Association, Cook County Public Defender, Blackroots Alliance and researchers from Northwestern University undertook a qualitative study to better understand the meaning of safety for Black Chicagoans. Respondents stated that safety was not just the absence of harm, but a condition where people felt free to live their lives. The study also revealed attitudes toward the public defender and a vision for the future built on caring for others. You can watch a webinar on the report from the Joyce Foundation. (Check out PJI’s own exploration of safety here!)

IOWA, as in I OWE WHAT for an Attorney? An investigation by The Marshall Project found that the Hawkeye State not only imposes some of the highest court-appointed attorney fees in the nation, but it charges people for the service even if they are acquitted or the charges are dropped. Some of the highest fees are in rural areas, where there is no defender service, and failure to pay the legal bill can result in loss of driving privileges, ability to register vehicles, and garnishment.

NM Requires Automatic Hold for Arrest While on Release. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB 271, which requires a hold without bond for any person on pretrial release for a felony who is arrested for a subsequent felony until a judge can hold a hearing to consider modifications or revocations to conditions of release. The bill was part of Governor Grisham’s package of legislative priorities.

Emerging Data from Illinois. The Coalition to End Money Bond has released preliminary data from the first six months of the Pretrial Fairness Act, namely that fewer people are being locked up in jail, and the process for deciding whether to lock someone up pretrial has become more robust, with hearing duration increasing from 4 minutes to 22 minutes. Advocates caution, however, that more data over longer periods of time from all counties is required to draw more substantive conclusions.