CSAC Bulletin Article

Judicial Council Funds 16 Pretrial Pilot Programs

August 15, 2019

Last week, the Judicial Council awarded millions of dollars to fund pretrial projects in 16 trial courts throughout the state. This year’s state budget earmarked $75 million to the Judicial Council to launch and evaluate two-year pretrial projects in local trial courts.

As directed by the Legislature, the projects aim to increase the safe and efficient release of arrestees before trial; use the least restrictive monitoring practices possible while protecting public safety and ensuring court appearances; validate and expand the use of risk assessment tools; and assess any bias.

The approved projects are:

Alameda $14.4 million Restore program
Calaveras $531,000 New program
Kings $1.12 million New program
Los Angeles $17.3 million Expand program
Modoc $746,000 New program
Napa $1.7 million Expand program
Nevada-Sierra $331,000 Expand program
Sacramento $9.59 million New program
San Joaquin No funds requested Maintain program
San Mateo $6.19 million Expand program
Santa Barbara $1.6 million Expand program
Sonoma $5.76 million Expand program
Tulare $3.77 million Expand program
Tuolumne $632,000 Expand program
Ventura $3.7 million Expand program
Yuba $844,000 Expand program

Each of the pretrial pilot projects will operate under existing law and incorporate release decisions made by judicial officers prior to arraignment—or at arraignment if a hearing is required—informed by a risk assessment conducted by county probation departments. Highlights of the approved pilot projects can be found here.

The pilot projects were recommended by the Pretrial Reform and Operations Workgroup, which was launched by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in January. The 12-person group includes trial court judges, appellate justices and court executive officers from courts of all sizes and from both rural and urban parts of the state.

A previous workgroup established by the Chief Justice to study pretrial detention released a slate of recommendations in 2017. Those recommendations included replacing money bail with a risk-based assessment and supervision program that bases decisions on whether to jail arrestees before trial based on their threat to public safety and likelihood of showing up to court.

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