chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

ABA joins national effort to tackle pretrial justice issues

The American Bar Association has joined with philanthropic Arnold Ventures as a partner in a new grant-funded community effort dedicated to reducing unjust and unnecessary pretrial detention

The National Partnership for Pretrial Justice, which launched March 19, includes more than 30 research, technical assistance, policy and advocacy organizations that will work to advance pretrial justice nationally and in more than 35 states across the country.

“The ongoing detention of individuals not yet convicted of crimes merely due to their inability to pay cash bail is wrong,” ABA President Bob Carlson said. “It impedes the interests of justice and imposes grave harms on defendants, their families and their communities. The ABA is working to fix our broken pretrial justice system. We are proud to partner with Arnold Ventures and the other members of the National Partnership on this important issue.”

The National Partnership seeks to leverage the collective expertise of its members to drive wholesale reform. Partnership members, including the ABA through its Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, are studying ways to improve prosecutorial data collection, developing models of progressive prosecution, evaluating new public defense service models, trying to improve judicial decision-making and working to more effectively remind people of court appointments to reduce failure to appear.

The ABA has long advocated for bail reform in the criminal justice system. In August 2017, the policymaking ABA House of Delegates called for state and local governments to adopt pretrial justice policies favoring “release of defendants upon their own recognizance or unsecured bond.” A year later, the House adopted the “ABA 10 Guidelines on Court Fines and Fees” seeking to ensure that fines and fees are imposed and administered fairly and that the justice system does not punish people for being poor.

The ABA also filed in this U.S. Supreme Court term an amicus brief challenging the bail policies and practices in the city of Calhoun, Ga., and has filed two other related briefs in pending cases at the circuit court level.

Related links: