Newsletter: Can public defenders be another solution to bail reform?

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Hi NPPJ members,

Here’s a look back at the stories brought to you by the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice in April.

(José Garza was overwhelmingly elected as the Travis County district attorney in November 2020. A former public defense attorney and immigration activist, Garza said the current American justice system is “broken.” Photo:

Will Texas Finally Tackle Bail Reform?
In the wake of several federal court decisions ruling money bail systems unconstitutional — and facing the exorbitant cost of detaining tens of thousands of unconvicted people — advocates are calling on the Texas Legislature to finally reform a bail system that routinely keeps people behind bars based on their bank accounts.

Also read: As Federal Courts Strike Down Bail Practices, Texas Must Reckon with Reform

Legacy of collaboration leads to meaningful bail reform for a New York county
When New York passed statewide bail reform, it replaced a system that wrongly jailed poor individuals who couldn’t afford to buy their freedom. Jonathan Heller, the principal probation officer in Dutchess County, described the bail reform as a “paradigm shift” in thinking. Implementing those reforms didn’t come without months of work and collaboration.

As Calls for Bail Reform Ring Nationwide, Could the Answer Lie with Public Defenders?
In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, county officials launched a pilot program to provide a local public defender at some bail hearings. Could that serve as another solution to unjust pretrial detention?

José Garza’s unique background brings new vision to Travis County DA’s office
Garza won November’s election with overwhelming support of Travis County voters after running on a platform of criminal justice reform and a promise to restore trust in the system, especially among communities of color. Garza didn’t take a traditional path to elected district attorney, but he believes his past as a federal defense attorney on the Texas-Mexico border and immigration activist make him well suited to the task at hand.

4 Prosecutor-Driven Diversion Programs Giving Second Chances
In honor of Second Chances Month in April, we looked at four prosecutor-driven programs that are keeping people out of the criminal justice system.
for the job.

As always, you can read the full archive of NPPJ stories right here.


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