Pretrial Detention Reform

This is an equal access to justice issue here in California and nationally. All three branches of our government have expressed an interest in working on a solution to this pressing issue, and to support that goal I am establishing a work group to provide recommendations on how courts may better identify ways to make release decisions that will treat people fairly, protect the public, and ensure court appearances.

                                                                                                               — Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup

Purpose: Study current pretrial detention practices and provide recommendations for potential reforms.

Date Established: October 2016

Now Available: Pretrial Detention Reform Report

Read the Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup recommendations published October 2017. Learn more about the report from the press release, Chief Justice Workgroup: Money Bail is "Unsafe and Unfair".
 

Significant attention is focused on pretrial detention throughout the country. Courts, counties, and municipalities have been the subject of multiple lawsuits asserting constitutional violations. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye expressed concerns about individuals who are detained pretrial solely because they are too poor to afford bail in her 2016 State of the Judiciary address to the California Legislature. Members in both houses of the California Legislature have introduced legislation aimed at pretrial reform.

A Brief Guide to the California Chief Justice’s Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup

The workgroup began its work in December 2016 and will conclude in December 2017. The recommendations will be presented to the Chief Justice for her consideration and will later be shared with Judicial Council advisory committees, as appropriate.

The recommendations may include changes to rules of court or California law, best practices for courts and justice system partners, or suggestions for related areas in need of study. The group will receive input from state and national experts, justice system partners, regulators, victim and civil liberty advocates, and states and localities that have recently undergone pretrial reform efforts.

Judicial decision making is integral to pretrial detention. The workgroup is guided by the following principles:

  • Pretrial custody should not occur solely because a defendant cannot afford bail
  • Public safety is a fundamental consideration in pretrial detention decisions
  • Defendants should be released from pretrial custody as early as possible based on an assessment of the risk to public safety and the risk for failing to appear in court
  • Mitigating the impacts of implicit bias on pretrial release decision-making should be considered
  • Reform recommendations should consider Court and justice system partner resources
  • Non-financial release alternatives should be available
  • Establish consistent and feasible practices for making pretrial release, detention, and supervision decisions

  • Hon. Brian J. Back, Co-Chair, Judge of the Superior Court of California County of Ventura
  • Hon. Lisa R. Rodriguez, Co-Chair, Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego
  • Hon. Mark Boessenecker, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Napa
  • Mr. Alex Calvo, Court Executive Officer, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Cruz
  • Hon. Arturo Castro, Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda
  • Hon. Hilary A. Chittick, Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno
  • Hon. George C. Eskin (Ret.), Retired Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara
  • Hon. Scott M. Gordon, Judge of the Superior Court of California,County of Los Angeles
  • Hon. Teri L. Jackson, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California,County of San Francisco
  • Hon. Brian L. McCabe, Judge of the Superior Court of California,County of Merced
  • Hon. Serena R. Murillo, Judge of the Superior Court of California,County of Los Angeles
  • Hon. Risë Jones Pichon, Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara

Contact Information


Judicial Council Criminal Justice Services Office
crimjusticeoffice@jud.ca.gov

© 2017 Judicial Council of California