End of Pretrial Growth Era ‘In Sight,’ Says Advocate

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Illustration by Rodrigo Kore via Flickr

As legislatures and courts grapple increasingly with bail reform, research and case studies have been piling up in recent years to make the reform case, writes Marc Levin in a newly published commentary at Real Clear Policy.

Levin, a prominent conservative criminal justice reformer — he is vice president of criminal justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a leader of its Right on Crime initiative — argues that for all the constitutional barriers and complexities of the issues, “the destination is in sight: the end of an era of ever-growing pretrial jail populations that fails to deliver public safety and compromises our cherished constitutional rights of due process of equal protection.”

Levin writes that the reform case is supported by two main arguments: the injustice of detaining people pretrial simply because they cannot afford the terms of release, and the growing evidence that alternatives to commercial bail are as effective, if not more so, at guaranteeing people show up for court and stay out of trouble while they are out.

Among many studies and examples Levin cites: New Jersey and New Mexico, where voters approved preventive detention constitutional amendments — removing a common barrier to a risk-assessment-based system — and where early indications point to lower jail populations without corresponding increases in failures to appear.

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