Newsletter: The National Partnership for Pretrial Justice: One Year Later

Dear National Partnership Members,

When we created the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice (NPPJ) one year ago, we felt driven to connect researchers, practitioners, and advocates that we could see, from our vantage point, were working in parallel to reform our nation’s pretrial justice system. We made a bet that increased collaboration and visibility into colleagues’ work would be productive for all and help supercharge reform efforts.

We could not have predicted how vital this community of practice would become, particularly in light of the pandemic our country is now facing. Removing as many people as possible from jails—notorious COVID-19 hot spots—is urgently needed. Your work is urgently needed.

So thank you, first and foremost, for the critical work you’re doing to eliminate unnecessary and unjust pretrial detention across the country.

We wanted to call out some of what you’ve achieved in the last year as part of the NPPJ community.

  • Bail Reform Leaders Convene in New Jersey: Last year, NPPJ convened a group of bail reform leaders from across the country, together with justice leaders from New Jersey and researchers from MDRC, to discuss MDRC’s latest research findings and lessons learned from New Jersey bail reform.
    • We’re proud that MDRC’s research has since been cited in numerous media stories about bail reform and that New Jersey’s justice leaders were on the forefront of reducing jail populations in light of COVID-19.
  • NPPJ Members Study New York State Bail Reform:  A diverse and experienced group of NPPJ members have assembled to research, provide technical assistance, and support the unprecedented bail reform efforts in New York State. It’s critical to document and empirically evaluate New York’s changes so policymakers and the public can make their decisions based on hard evidence, not anecdote.
  • Researchers Support Harris County Bail Reform: NPPJ members established partnerships with local Harris County stakeholders to understand, improve, and support the pretrial system in Harris County, Texas.
  • NPPJ Members Launch Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research: NPPJ members launched the Advancing Pretrial Policy & Research (APPR) project to pair jurisdictions committed to pretrial justice with researchers and justice experts, undertaking a five-year partnership to implement and study the Public Safety Assessment. For the first year, five sites were selected to be part of this work. This week, APPR launched a comprehensive new website chock-full of pretrial resources and explainers. A great site for everyone from researchers and practitioners to journalists and policymakers.
  • Bringing Together Litigation and Advocacy Partners: NPPJ convened our advocacy and litigation partners across New York to work more collaboratively towards our common goal of eliminating unnecessary and unjust pretrial detention. Watch this space for exciting updates.
  • Strengthening Indigent Defense:  NPPJ convened defense lawyers and other practitioners from across the country to discuss obstacles to providing indigent defense and how to provide momentum for reform across researchers, litigators, advocates, and the philanthropic community.
  • A Step Towards Data-Driven Prosecution:  One of our newest NPPJ members is the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO). In partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia DAO will analyze the short- and long-term impacts of prosecutorial decision-making on individuals, families, and communities in Philadelphia.

For these reasons and so many more, we’re proud to work with you. In the year ahead, we’ll continue to amplify your work and expertise, and look for ways to support and connect you to one another.

To that end, we know every jurisdiction is experiencing unprecedented challenges related to COVID-19. We would like to hear how this is impacting your work; connect you to other community members who might be helpful if you’re facing specific obstacles; and share your observations, decisions, and goals so the larger NPPJ community can learn from you. This year certainly drove home for us how important it is to connect and collaborate across siloes.

We hope you will reach out, and please watch and follow @ReformPretrial for updates.

Stay safe and well.


The National Partnership for Pretrial Justice, an Arnold Ventures community