Citizens’ Right to Know: Pretrial Release Act

Citizens’ Right to Know: Pretrial Release Act

Summary
This Act demands that pretrial service agencies reveal their budgets and staffing, number and kind of release recommendations made, number of defendants released and under what type of bond, number of times a defendant has been released, his FTA record, and crimes committed while on release, and report the above in a timely and intelligible way and make it available to the public. This innovative ALEC model bill will provide a great service to the public by holding government agencies more accountable to taxpayers and potentially reducing crime.

Model Policy

Section 1{Title.}  This Act may be cited as the “Citizens’ Right to Know: Pretrial Release Act.”

Section 2.  {Definitions} As used in this Act:
A) “Annual Report” means a report prepared by a Pretrial Release Agency that accurately summarizes the effectiveness of such agency’s uses of public funds

B) “Non-secured release” means any release of a defendant from pretrial custody where no financial guarantee is required as a condition of such release.

C) “Pretrial Release Agency” means any government funded program whose function includes making recommendations for the non-secured release of criminal defendants or for the release of criminal defendants on the partial deposit of bail amount.

D) “Register” means a public record prepared by the Pretrial Release Agency readily available in the clerk’s office of the courthouse which displays the required data.

E) “Secured Release” means any release of a defendant from pretrial custody where a financial guarantee, such as cash or surety bond, is required as a condition of such release.

Section 3.  {Public Record.}
A)  The Pretrial Release Agency in each county of (State) shall prepare a register displaying information regarding the cases and defendants who are recommended for release by such agency.  The register shall be located in the clerk’s office of the court in which the Pretrial Release Agency is located and the register shall be readily available to the public

B)  The register shall be updated on a weekly basis and shall display accurate information regarding the following information for each defendant whose non-secured release was recommended by the Pretrial Release Agency:

  1. the charge against the defendant;
  2. the nature of any prior criminal convictions against the defendant;
  3. any court appearances required;
  4. missed court date;
  5. bench warrants issued; and,
  6. instance of program non-compliance.

Section 4.  {Annual Report.}
A)  Prior to the end of the first quarter of each calendar year, every Pretrial Release Agency in each county of (State) shall submit an annual report to (Applicable State Office) for the prior calendar year and make such report available on the World Wide Web.

B)  The annual report shall contain but not be limited to the following information:

  1. the complete operating budget of the Pretrial Release Agency;
  2. the number of personnel employed by the Pretrial Release Agency;
  3. the total number of release recommendations made by the Pretrial Release Agency.;
  4. the total number of cases reviewed by the Pretrial Release Agency;
  5. the total number of cases in which non-secured release was denied by the Pretrial Release Agency.;
  6. the number of defendants released on non-secured release after a positive recommendation by the Pretrial Release Agency;
  7. the average period of time the defendant is incarcerated before being released on recommendation by the Pretrial Release Agency (These statistics should be classified as felonies and misdemeanors);
  8. the total number of cases where the defendant was released on a non-secured release after a positive recommendation by the Pretrial Release Agency and the defendant had at lease one missed court date within one year of the date of release;
  9. the total number of cases where a defendant was released on a non-secured release after a positive recommendation by the Pretrial Release Agency and a bench warrant was issue by the court on the defendant’s failure to appear on a non-secured release;
  10. the total number of cases where a defendant was released on a non-secured release after a positive recommendation by the Pretrial Release Agency and a bench warrant was issue by the court but remained unserved after one year; and
  11. the total number of cases where a defendant was released on a non-secured release after a positive recommendation by the Pretrial Release Agency and a warrant was issued for the defendant after his or her release for additional criminal charges within one year.
  12. total number of cases where a defendant was released on a non-secured release after a positive recommendation by the Pretrial Release Agency and the defendant was arrested on a new offense while on release under the Pretrial Release Agency’s recommendation.

C)  The annual report shall also contain an accounting of the percentage of the Pretrial Release Agency’s annual budget which is allocated to steering defendants eligible for secured release toward obtaining their own release through non-government sponsored programs.

Section 5.  {Preparation of the Register and Annual Report.}  Every Pretrial Release Agency shall prepare the register and annual report out of their existing budgets, and no additional government funds shall be made available for the production of these items.

Section 6.  {Sanctions For Noncompliance.}  If the chief judge finds that the pretrial release program has not maintained the register or filed an annual report as  required by Section 5,  the chief judge shall:

  1. For a first occurrence of noncompliance, require the pretrial release program immediately to prepare a written report explaining the noncompliance and what measures will be taken to bring the program into compliance and the date by which the noncompliance will be corrected.
  2. For a second or subsequent occurrence of noncompliance, order the pretrial release program to show why it should not be sanctioned for its continued noncompliance.If pretrial release program cannot justify the continued noncompliance, the chief judge may order the program to reduced its budget by 25 per cent if it is a pretrial release program receiving public funds, and if the pretrial release program is a private entity, suspend further agency operation until full compliance is demonstrated.

Section 7.  {Severability  Clause.}

Section 8. {Repealer Clause}

Section 9. {Effective Date}

Approved by ALEC Board of Directors on September 11, 2008.

Re-approved January 9, 2014.

Keyword Tags: 2013 SNPS, Justice Performance Project Task Force, Pretrial Release