Courts Media Clips

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How to Reduce Incarceration? Change Prosecutors’ Incentives

Sending someone to prison in Pennsylvania costs around $42,000 a year by conservative estimates. So if a prosecutor is requesting a five-year sentence, they would have to justify not only an approximate $210,000 cost to taxpayers but also the decision to interrupt the convicted person’s connection to family, employment, and access to public benefits.

Do Jail Diversion Programs Really Work?

When diversion is done well its results can be significant. Cook County’s diversion program (in Illinois), which is widely recognized as a model, is an example: a year after finishing felony diversion, 97 percent of graduates have no new felony arrests, and 86 percent have no new arrests of any kind.

Judge: Tennessee Can’t Revoke Driver’s Licenses from People Who Can’t Pay Court Costs

“Practically speaking, this is going to be a huge benefit to the low-income people of Tennessee who are going to be able to drive to work, take their kids to school, go to the grocery store, visit the doctor, without fear of being arrested and prosecuted for driving without a license,” Claudia Wilner, a senior attorney with the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, said.

The Next Test for Bail Reform: Prosecutors

A growing number of cities and states have taken significant steps to alter their cash bail systems. But Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and, a month earlier, the Manhattan district attorney, appear to be the first DAs in major cities to attempt reform through the prosecutor’s office.

Delaware Strengthens Bail Reform Movement

“Money doesn’t guarantee that people won’t engage in new criminal activity,” says Insha Rahman, an expert on bail reform at the Vera Institute of Justice, “and it doesn’t guarantee that people will come back to court.”

Judicial Group Urges End to Cash Bail for Criminal Defendants

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Brian J. Back, a co-chair of the group, said requiring defendants to post money bail unfairly punishes the poor. “Thousands of Californians who pose no risk to the public are held in jail before trial, while others charged with serious or violent offenses may pose a high risk and can buy their freedom simply by bailing out,” Back said.

Opinion: Montgomery’s Mental-Health Courts Are in High Demand

Our nation’s more than 300 mental-health courts advance justice. A 2009 study by the MacArthur Foundation and the Council of State Governments found they cut criminal recidivism of participants by 20 percent to 25 percent and provide better links to mental-health treatment that lead to productive lives.

Charged a Fee for Getting Arrested, Whether Guilty or Not

The Supreme Court will soon consider whether to hear a challenge to Ramsey County, Minnesota’s fund-raising efforts, which are part of a national trend to extract fees and fines from people who find themselves enmeshed in the criminal justice system.