Appellate panel finds no right to money bail, and the news in criminal justice this week

“We find no right to these forms of monetary bail in the Eighth Amendment’s proscription of excessive bail nor in the Fourteenth Amendment’s substantive and procedural due process components.” 

A federal appellate panel rejected a challenge to New Jersey’s bail reforms, finding that there was no constitutional right to monetary bail. The New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act has contributed to a 24% decrease in the non-sentenced pretrial jail population since 2017, and continues to face challenges from the bail industry. The opinion, written by U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Ambro, is available here.

“…a blueprint for treating addiction throughout the criminal justice system.”

In September, Kentucky’s Kenton County Detention Center will launch a first-in-the-nation jail-based treatment program for those with opioid addictions, offering medication and comprehensive therapy. Participants will undergo 90 days of intense addiction treatment, and receive job training and life skills education. Upon release, they will have the option of continuing medication-assisted treatment. The program, Start Strong, was created in partnership with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the University of Kentucky, and the commonwealth’s Office of Drug Control Policy and cabinets for Health and Family Services and Justice and Public Safety.

“The reality of witness identification is that it is one of the least-reliable pieces of evidence, and yet we put great weight on it.”

In 25 states, including Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan, and New York, law enforcement agencies have implemented policies intended to improve police lineups. Reforms enacted this year require Louisiana police officers to conduct “double-blind’ lineups, in which the officer conducting the lineup doesn’t know who the suspect is. The National Registry of Exonerations found that mistaken identifications were a factor in 29% of 2,245 exonerations since 1989.

“The relationship between police and the communities they serve is at a crisis in many cities, and they have no way of measuring what success is right now.”

In a partnership with Elucd, the city of New York is offering residents the chance to give direct feedback on satisfaction with police performance and overall safety. More than 200,000 unique respondents have filled out the 10-question surveys, which come through pop-up ads on smartphones and robocalls to landlines, and responses are broken down into 297 precinct sectors. Weekly CompStat meetings now include monthly “trust score” feedback and rankings.

“The criminal justice system is not the right place—or it shouldn’t be the place of first resort to provide addiction or mental health services.”

Portland, Oregon is seeking a better understanding of arrest trends and causes after a report by the Oregonian showed that people experiencing homelessness accounted for 52% of arrests in 2017. 86% of those arrests were for non-violent crimes, and nearly a quarter were for procedural violations, including missing court dates or violating parole or probation. Amid this increased focus, Mayor Wheeler also noted that the city has increased funding for its Behavioral Health Unit, increased training on de-escalation, and added a homeless liaison position to the Portland Police Bureau.