Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections is working with two very different counties to help create pretrial services programs that are rooted in sound, research-based practices. Los Angeles and New Orleans are facing a problem common to counties across the country: too many people occupying expensive jail beds because they cannot post bail or a money bond.
Consult the following resources to help you gauge the costs and benefits of pretrial detention and pretrial release options.
1. Developing a cost-benefit framework
Roger Bowles and Mark Cohen. Pre-Trial Detention: A Cost-Benefit Approach. New York: Open Society Justice Institute, 2008.
Refer to this methodological study for a comprehensive list of costs and benefits to consider in a CBA of pretrial release.
Michael Jones is the criminal justice planning manager for the Jefferson County, Colorado, Criminal Justice Planning Unit (CJP), an agency responsible for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the county’s justice system. In 2007, amidst growing concern about the fairness and cost-effectiveness of the county’s money bail system, Jones and his colleagues began working with local government officials to develop the Jefferson County Bail Project.
A recent post on the RightOnCrime.org blog discusses reforming pretrial detention as a way to decrease—and not just redistribute—the number of people who are incarcerated. An effective pretrial services program could help judges determine which defendants can be safely released, monitor released individuals to ensure their court appearance, and potentially save taxpayers’ money by reducing the jail population.
This month, CBKB highlights information about the costs and benefits of pretrial detention, release, and services. Since the 1990s, the U.S. jail population has doubled from 400,000 to nearly 800,000, and pretrial detainees—those for whom a determination of guilt or innocence has not yet been made—account for three-quarters of this increase.