Report

Incarceration Trends Presumption of Innocence Pretrial and Bail Pretrial and Jails Pretrial Justice Pretrial Services October 12, 2022

Cages Without Bars

Patrice James, Illinois Black Advocacy Initiative
James Kilgore, MediaJustice
Gabriela Kirk, Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University
Grace Mueller, Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts
Sarah Staudt, Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts
Emmett Sanders, Challenging E-Carceration
LaTanya R. Jackson Wilson, Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Pretrial Electronic Monitoring Across the United States


Across the United States each year, hundreds of thousands of people accused but not yet convicted of crimes are required by the courts to participate in electronic monitoring programs. These people are fitted with a locked, tightened ankle shackle, which often tracks every move they make.


Pretrial electronic monitoring programs represent a fast-growing type of incarceration that imposes significant harm and burdens on people who are subject to it. We interviewed people subject to monitoring, program administrators, judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys across select jurisdictions to better understand how pretrial electronic monitoring is used.

Publication

Bail Community Engagement Crime Data Analysis Featured Jurisdictions Human Toll of Jail Jail Populations Pretrial and Bail Pretrial and Jails Pretrial Justice Pretrial Services Racial Disparities July 1, 2022

Expanding Supervised Release in New York City

Safety and Justice Challenge, Center for Court Innovation

In 2015, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation launched the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC), a multi-year initiative to reduce populations and racial disparities in American jails. To advance knowledge development grounded in a research agenda that explores, evaluates, and documents site-specific strategies to safely and effectively reduce jail populations and address racial and ethnic disparities, the Foundation engaged the Institute for State & Local Governance (ISLG) at the City University of New York (CUNY) to establish and oversee an SJC Research Consortium. Consortium members are nationally renowned research, policy, and academic organizations collaborating with SJC sites to build an evidence base focused on pretrial reform efforts.

Under New York City’s Supervised Release Program (SRP) individuals awaiting trial are released under community supervision to ensure their return to court, instead of via bail or pretrial detention. Defendants are eligible for the citywide SRP if they meet specific criteria, including arrest charge type, estimated risk status, and community ties. Towards the goal of reducing the jail population, New York City expanded the City’s Supervised Release Program (SRP) several times by altering the eligibility criteria to include a wider range of individuals. The first large expansion of SRP since 2016 occurred at the beginning of June 2019. A subsequent program expansion occurred in December 2019 as New York State prepared for 2020 bail reform legislation to go into effect.

In an effort to better understand the impact of expansion of SRP as a jail-reduction strategy, ISLG and the SJC Research Consortium funded the Center for Court Innovation to examine the impact of the June 2019 expansion. The Center conducted a time series analysis to determine if observed post-expansion SRP enrollment and/or detention rates significantly differed from predicted rates. The study found that the expansion increased SRP rates across racial groups and reduced detention for non-violent felony offenses, though not for misdemeanor offenses. In addition, the findings show increased use of SRP for misdemeanor offenses, which may suggest net-widening.

Key takeaways:

  1. Increasing program participation does not always decrease detention. For small program expansions (like the 2019 expansion) to have a true impact on detention, these initiatives must target serious crimes that are likely to be detained.

  2. Large changes are needed for large impact. Larger expansions, especially those that are driven by legislative change (like the December 2019 expansion in preparation for bail reform), can have a greater impact on detention compared to smaller expansions.

  3. Targeted efforts to reduce racial disparities are necessary. Disparities are not automatically impacted by increasing program participation and decreasing detention across the board. To reduce racial disparities, targeted efforts must be made.

Together, the findings suggest that the SRP expansion reduced detention for some offenses and highlight the importance of measuring the impact of program implementation and expansion to inform future work and jail reduction efforts in New York City and other jurisdictions.

Multnomah County, OR

Change in Jail Population 34%

Action Areas Community Engagement Pretrial Justice Probation Sanctions Racial Disparities

Last Updated

Background

Multnomah County has seen significant reductions in jail use, but work remains to be done. Over-reliance on jail continues to impact the most marginalized community members, including people of color, people with mental health issues and/or substance use disorders, and people who are unhoused or have limited incomes. Multnomah County is committed to continuing efforts to reduce its reliance on incarceration and address systemic inequities in the criminal justice system.

According to a 2019 report by the W. Haywood Burns Institute, prevalent and persistent racial disparities impact communities of color at every decision point in Multnomah County’s public safety system. Those disparities combined with system inefficiencies in the County’s pretrial system — a critical point in a defendant’s right to due process — create undue harm.

Strategies

Multnomah County advanced several strategies to rethink and redesign its criminal justice system so that it is more fair, just and equitable for all.

01

PRETRIAL SYSTEM OVERHAUL

In 2020, Multnomah County launched an initiative to overhaul the pretrial system and implement a system that is more risk-based and maximizes pretrial release. This includes implementing the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), rethinking the County’s approach to pretrial monitoring and improving the arraignment process. The County is approaching this process with emphasis on transparency, collaboration, and racial equity.

02

RACIAL & ETHNIC DISPARITIES

Reducing racial and ethnic disparities has been a focus of the County’s core strategies. The efforts, which include opening the Diane Wade House, a transitional house for justice-involved Black women, and using data to identify disparities, are a testament to partners’ determination to succeed. The County plans to launch a subcommittee comprised equally of community members and policymakers to address disparities throughout the criminal legal system.

03

AMPLIFYING COMMUNITY VOICES

Multnomah County launched a Community Advisory Board (CAB) to help guide the planning and oversight of the Diane Wade House. The CAB has played a vital role in the future visioning of the program. The County is currently identifying opportunities to amplify community voices in all other reform efforts, including work to overhaul the pretrial system and through Transforming Justice focus groups.

04

SUSTAINING COVID-RELATED POLICIES

The COVID-19 pandemic presented opportunities for policy change to reduce the transmission of disease and over-reliance on jail. Some of these changes include increased use of summons in lieu of booking, changes in booking policy, limiting the use of sanctions for technical violations of probation conditions and increased use of remote court hearings. Moving forward, Multnomah County will continue to evaluate the sustainability of these policy changes.

05

PROBATION SANCTIONS

Sanction practice changes for people on parole and probation have played a significant role in the reduction of local jail use. The policy, implemented within Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice in 2016, requires parole and probation officers to limit the use of jail sanctions for technical violations such as failure to abide by a parole and probation officer’s directive. This change has not only reduced county jail use, but is consistent with evidence-based practices on the effectiveness of long-term sanctions in behavior change.

Results

As a result of the strategies above, Multnomah County has made progress toward its goal of rethinking and redesigning its criminal justice system.

Quartery ADP for Multnomah County (2016-2022)

33.9% from baseline

More Results

The County has seen significant reductions in the local jail population due to swift action from policymakers to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among adults in custody, as well as a continued interest in sustaining policies to maintain a low jail population. Additionally, local policymakers are committed to moving toward a risk-based pretrial system, which will increase the number of individuals released pretrial and further the County’s goals of reducing its reliance on jail. Since the beginning of the county’s participation in the Safety and Justice Challenge, there has been a significant reduction in the jail population while keeping the community safe.

Also, in recognition of the immense collateral consequences and economic disadvantage people on supervision already face, Multnomah County eliminated parole and probation fees within the County’s Department of Community Justice. Supervision fees place incredible financial pressure on individuals who are exiting the criminal justice system, a disproportionate number of whom come from Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. The move includes elimination of community service fees, urinalysis fees, and any other administrative fee collected from people involved in the justice system.

Remaining Challenges

Multnomah County is committed to addressing its remaining challenges to ensure the local justice system is fair, just, and equitable for all.

In an effort to launch a broad systemic conversation about inequities embedded in the criminal legal system, the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council’s (LPSCC) January 2020 What Works conference highlighted the need to redefine the jurisdiction’s entire approach to criminal justice and intentionally put equity at the center. In response, LPSCC launched a multi-year Transforming Justice process to develop, align and implement strategies for system change by engaging criminal system leaders, health/housing system leaders, elected officials, service providers, victims of crime, community members, and individuals with lived experience to ask hard questions and, together, reimagine the future of justice policy. An inclusive steering committee of people with diverse backgrounds and professions was formed in May 2021 to direct this work, under the guidance of outside facilitators identified through a competitive procurement process.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on every aspect of the County’s local justice system and continues to uniquely affect those incarcerated in jails. The foundation of collaborative, data-driven strategies — including the necessary structures and collaboration from local stakeholders that are in place to support these strategies — set the County up to respond to the pandemic swiftly and effectively.

Action from policymakers to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among adults in custody led to significant reductions in the local jail population and, moving forward, a continued interest in sustaining the policies to maintain a low population. Further, the challenges of the pandemic, paired with local and national calls for racial justice and reckoning, are powerful motivators to substantially change the way the local criminal justice system functions.

Lead Agency

Multnomah County Local Public Safety Coordinating Council

Contact Information

Abbey Stamp
abbey.stamp@multco.us

Follow us:

Blog Posts