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NEWS

Short Update: Radical COVID-19 changes to pre-trial detention and releases across the US show no increase in crime

FairTrialsAdmin - July 8, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Court closures, Prisoner releases, Delayed or accelerated proceedings

There have been transformative changes in pre-trial practices across the US due to COVID-19, according to a new NAPSA survey of several pre-trial services agencies, between April and June 2020, including 40 states and Washington D.C. The study showed: 

  • 65.17 percent increase in cite and release 

  • 67.98 percent increase in release on personal recognizance in nonviolent cases 

  • 81.46 percent increase in releases from jail for persons awaiting trial. 

  • Virtually all court hearings were postponed, and there was a 59.88 percent decrease in bail amounts. 

  • Jurisdictions also took steps to reduce police contact with civilians - there was a striking 84.57 percent decrease in custodial arrests 

  • There was also a reduction in the obstacles defendants face in getting released from jail. The survey found an 11.73 percent decrease in fine and fee amounts, and court collection of those fines and fees was delayed by 46.55 percent. 

  • Almost half of the jurisdictions surveyed were forced to reduce or suspend drug and alcohol monitoring. And, over 75 percent of jurisdictions reduced or suspended drug and alcohol testing. 

At the same time, there was a spike in virtual practices among jurisdictions across the country. Most jurisdictions increased video-based court hearings, telephone check-ins, electronic monitoring, and virtual reporting (e.g., via email, video conferencing, and phone calls). 

Importantly, in most of the jurisdictions where these reforms were implemented, crime rates remained relatively stable. 

The findings from the NAPSA survey demonstrate that jurisdictions can release people from pre-trial detention, reduce police contact with civilians, and modernize the way it conducts hearings and other meetings, without increasing crime rates. 

We publish information as it is reported to us. If you would like to make us aware of an inaccuracy or send us more information please email us at [email protected].

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

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