Fairness and Efficiency Are at the Forefront of Reforms in Pulaski County

Pulaski County (Arkansas) Judge Herbert T. Wright.

In 2020, Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research (APPR) welcomed Pulaski County, Arkansas, as a Research-Action Site. Pulaski County will partner with APPR to improve its pretrial justice system. APPR spoke with Circuit Judge Herbert T. Wright about becoming a Research-Action Site and his vision for change in Pulaski County.

APPR: Why did you want to become a Research-Action Site?

Judge Wright: Pulaski County’s lack of pretrial services—and the justice system as a whole—needs the guidance and expertise that APPR provides to its Research-Action Sites. To be candid, our current pretrial system causes a lot of confusion for people in the pretrial phase. They are unsure what to do and what is actually required of them as they await their trial. This causes them to withdraw altogether, which results in additional arrests and other problems. Our hope is to create a system where people are supported by the process and not beaten down by it. Being a Research-Action Site is an opportunity for our community to pull together and improve the pretrial process overall.

APPR: What do you hope to achieve?

Judge Wright: Currently, the pretrial experience for people in Pulaski can vary depending on which judge handles the case. Our hope is to set a uniform path—from arrest to trial—for everyone. We believe this path will lead to a fairer, more equitable system. We also want a process that is easy to understand, both by the person and by the staff involved. I believe the changes we will identify through this process will improve our pretrial success rates.

Read the full Q&A here.