Monday, August 5, 2013


What exactly is the Pretrial Justice Institute? Perhaps the best way to know would be to examine what the Institute itself says that it is. Here is exactly how they are described in their own words: "The nation's only non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring informed pretrial decision making for safe communities."

That is indeed a lofty claim. And it states a star-high goal: "safe communities". What is claimed is something every decent person hopes for: how could anyone in their right mind and having even one ounce of moral fiber argue against promoting safe communities? "Safe communities" would represent a number of highly desirable benefits. Just a few examples would be: less allocation of much needed financial resources for crime prevention,  a citizenry free of fear of personal harm for themselves and their families, a lighter burden on the community's criminal courts in particular and justice system in general and, last but certainly not least, a reduced number of crime victims.

Of course,  a person or organization who says they are the significant benefactor of such marvelous and sought after blessings should be able to proffer some legitimate bona fides. That is, they ought to be able to place upon the table some tangible proof in support of their claim.

Wishing to neither appear unkind nor to embarrass anyone, we are nevertheless compelled to ask this question of the Pretrial Justice Institute: What evidence do you have to demonstrate that you are in fact advancing the interests of community safety? What can you bring forward to prove that your design is achieving that worthy objective?

No knowledgeable person within the criminal justice field would deny that there is a direct correlation between persons released from pretrial custody actually making their assigned court appearances and the misconduct rates of those persons while so released.  More simply stated: the method of pretrial release that performs best in terms of getting its charges to court also has, among all other methods of release, the lower percentage of reoffenders.  Better court appearance rates equals lower recidivism and therefore fewer crime victims.

Would it not clearly follow that if the Pretrial Justice Institute would have us believe that it really is most effective in improving community safety it would readily show us those performance statistics? We would all concede that numbers do not lie, so just put up the numbers and all will agree that you are indeed what you say you are: an organization that "makes for safe communities." If, that is, what you bring forth proves your claim.

There is, perhaps, an even more compelling reason for members of the  taxpaying public who fund your expensive organization to seek that proof: you go about the country asking local officials to displace private businesses that in fact actually do a good job of getting persons to court and thereby help protect the public. And you want those private businesses replaced by very expensive local taxpayer funded county agencies. Some dismay visits your making these recommendations when you have thus far refused to provide any performance statistics in support of such radical proposals.

So, please, Pretrial Justice Institute, provide those numerical justifications for your position.  I am posting this request in such places that there is no doubt but that your will see it.  And, respectfully, I am asking for you to please respond to my request herein.  If I am in error regarding your having already demonstrated your tangible proofs of superior performance, please show me where I have gone astray in that respect. I will accordingly own up to my mistake.  Otherwise, please be responsible enough to explain that as yet you have no such proofs. That would be the responsible thing to do, and it would, I am sure, be much appreciated by all: the local opinion leaders to whom you make your claims, as well as the general public whom you seek to have financially underwrite your proposals.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.