Release date: 1/18/2019
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today held an 18-county roundtable with criminal justice stakeholders from across the state to discuss ways to improve pretrial release systems in North Carolina.
“Decisions about pretrial detainment should be made based on a person’s risk to their community, not the size of their bank account,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Counties across North Carolina are doing innovative work to put in place fairer, more effective pretrial practices and this roundtable gives all of us an opportunity to learn from each other how to best promote public safety.”
Pretrial systems determine whether a person is detained or released from jail while their case is pending. These decisions are normally made by judges and magistrates, who are required by North Carolina law to have a preference for non-financial conditions of release, such as a written promise to appear or an unsecured bond. However, financial conditions of pretrial release, such as money bail, are still the most common type of condition of release in North Carolina. When an individual isn’t able to meet the bail amount, they often end up spending unnecessary time in pretrial detention.
Unnecessary pretrial detention has severe negative consequences. It can threaten employment and family stability, increase the likelihood that an individual will commit a new offense, disproportionately harm people of color and low income people, and result in harsher punishments and unjust outcomes. Unnecessary pretrial detention also worsens jail overcrowding and costs U.S. taxpayers approximately $14 billion a year.
Today’s roundtable is a culmination of a series of meetings Attorney General Stein has held with district attorneys, judges, sheriffs, pretrial program managers, and justice-involved people across the state to learn about effective pretrial release strategies. Criminal justice leaders from 18 counties looked at innovative practices being used to create fairer pretrial programs and discussed ways to implement practices that increase pretrial release rates while protecting public safety and maintaining individual accountability in their own counties. Statewide leaders also participated to discuss the path forward.In the next few months, Attorney General Stein and county leaders will reconvene to share updates about the implementation of these new pretrial practices and consider additional ways to create more just pretrial release systems.
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484