Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
| For Immediate Release:
March 19, 2018
Judicial Branch backs major Bail Reform initiative
3DaysCount Campaign Offers Path to Fairer Outcomes, Greater Public Safety, and
CONCORD, NH – The Judicial Branch announced today that it is beginning a process of analysis and reform that is expected to significantly improve the performance and outcomes of the state's pretrial system – the portion of the criminal justice process that extends from when a person comes into contact with law enforcement until any resulting charges are resolved, usually through a plea, trial, or dismissal.
As a participant in 3DaysCount , the Pretrial Justice Institute's national campaign to make pretrial justice in America safer, fairer, and more effective, New Hampshire will explore common sense solutions to long-standing pretrial justice system challenges that have historically discriminated against the poor and working class people, failed to protect individual and community safety, and strained public resources.
At a news conference announcing the plan, the Hon. Tina L. Nadeau, Chief Justice of the Superior Court, voiced her support for the new initiative, saying, “We are committed to implementing smarter pretrial justice policies here in New Hampshire. The 3DaysCount model will help us start the process of evaluating our current practices regarding money bail and pretrial justice. This will help us determine the best ways to make changes and to take action.”
“The Pretrial Justice Institute is proud to be partnering with the New Hampshire's criminal justice partners on this important issue,” said Pretrial Justice Institute CEO Cherise Fanno Burdeen. “All across America, too many people who have not been convicted of crime are sleeping in jails simply because they cannot afford their freedom. By joining the 3DaysCount community, New Hampshire is adding momentum to a national movement that is leading to safer communities, better outcomes for people who come in contact with law enforcement, and more effective use of scarce public resources. We look forward to working with the Judicial Branch and others in New Hampshire to realize these important outcomes."
The Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) is a nationally recognized resource for legal and evidence-based solutions to common pretrial justice challenges. Its 3DaysCount campaign is dedicated to helping states achieve several crucial goals by the year 2020, including replacing discriminatory money bail with practical, risk-based decision-making, and restricting detention to the small number of people who pose unmanageable risks if released.
As part of the 3DaysCount process, officials will also explore ways the pretrial system may be amended to better address the challenges posed by New Hampshire's ongoing opioid crisis, which has claimed over 18-hundred lives over the past five years. This could include giving courts more options, besides jail, for responding to individuals facing drug charges, such as diversion to treatment or services.
According to the PJI, the U.S. justice system currently operates like a complex maze, with too many entry points and too few exits – and unnecessary pretrial detention increases the chances of someone getting stuck in the maze. Today, nearly half a million legally innocent people are held in U.S. in local jails at an aggregate annual cost to taxpayers of nearly $14 billion. Most of these men and women could be released to await trial in the community and be counted on to appear in court and not be rearrested while they handle their case. They remain detained solely because they are unable to afford even a small money bail amount. It is unfair to hold a poor person in jail while another person who poses a similar risk level can pay money and be released. It is also unsafe.
Research from a national study shows that even three days in jail leaves many arrested people less likely to appear in court and more likely to commit new crimes, likely because of the stress incarceration places on fundamentals like jobs, housing, and family connections. Moreover, under the existing money bail system, research also shows nearly half of the highest-risk people are able to purchase their freedom before trial with little or no meaningful supervision, putting public safety at risk.
To learn more about 3DaysCount , visit: www.pretrial.org/3DaysCount
Fiona Druge for the Pretrial Justice Institute