Eliminate the use of secured, financial conditions of pretrial release (cash, property or surety bond) that require a low-risk defendant to pay some amount of money in order to obtain release, while permitting high-risk defendants with the resources to pay their bond to leave jail unsupervised. Currently in Massachusetts there is no consistent process based on proven research for assessing whether someone is a danger to the community. Most of people held pretrial are not dangerous.
Implement, as an alternative to money bail, a statewide pretrial services system that utilizes an assessment of the person charged to determine if they will appear in court by implementing pre-trial supervision and referrals with community services options. This system utilizes a standard, validated pretrial screening tool at the initial court hearing at which the pretrial detention/release decision is made. Studies have shown that incarcerating low-risk defendants increases their likelihood for re-arrest and the probability that they will serve jail time.
Launch pretrial diversion programs statewide.
Mandate an annual statewide jail report on the men and women held pretrial that provides data analysis and outcome measures related to pretrial and post-adjudication policies and practices. Require that an analysis of this data be made prior to the authorization of building any new jail or prison. A shared jail management database system would ensure consistency in data collection on men and women held pretrial across the state. This information does not exist now.
Enact legislation that allows pretrial release for individuals being held on parole or probation holds, many of whom have not been arrested for any new crime. Men and women held pretrial are often more than half of the population in county jails.
For more information on our platform, please visit our Sharable Content page.