Pretrial Justice Institute
200 East Pratt Street, Suite 4100
Baltimore, MD 21202

(667) 281-9141

What If: 10 Questions for Sparking Local Pretrial Change

These ten questions — along with a discussion guide and valuable tools and resources — examine the issue by reframing safety and community wellness.


PJI’s “What If?” publication challenges current pretrial policies and practices—and proposes innovative alternatives to pretrial risk assessment instruments and money bond. The publication explores the need to challenge deeply-held assumptions that perpetuate mass incarceration and structural racism, while envisioning a system that prioritizes equity, maximizes liberty, and provides support to people to fulfill their pretrial obligations.

By asking thought-provoking questions and presenting examples of promising practices from around the country, What If encourages justice practitioners, advocates, and community members to collaboratively reimagine—and help build—a world where add this text before launch.

Specific pretrial topics include: cultural transformation, mental and behavioral health, the two-sided nature of safety, alternative crisis response, citation usage, eligibility for detention, relevant conditions of release, evidence-based practices, and community supports.

The report also includes a Discussion Guide and resources to help local changemakers facilitate authentic collaboration, identify barriers to equity in their own systems, and lead with their values in the pursuit of pretrial justice.