TSCCBF is committed to finding local community resources to help defendants being held on high pretrial bail bonds get released. At the same time, the Arizona Supreme Court is urging trial courts to end the use of money bail. Earlier this year we added a “What’s New!” page to our website.
One of the suggestions we felt strongly about was that defendants should demand a bail bond reduction hearing. We set out solid reasons this procedure could help defendants sitting in Pima County Jail on high pretrial bail bonds. (Which is 70% – 80% of the total jail population, most of whom are incarcerated on misdemeanor warrants for failure to appear in justice or city court.) We believed then, and even more so now, that something must be done to end the lengthy pretrial detentions of inmates at Pima County Jail. One day of jail costs Pima County about $85 per inmate, and the average pretrial detention stay for inmates here is 110 days — far more than the average of 23 days in many other jurisdictions.
It is perplexing, given the significant foundation dollars being invested in the reduction of the jail population, that the average number of inmates housed at the Pima County Jail hovers around 1700 per month, when 2100 is the jail’s maximum capacity. It is time Tucsonans demanded a higher inmate reduction goal — we should aim for an average monthly jail population of 700, not 1700. To help achieve this goal, judges must be encouraged to do what the Arizona Supreme Court strongly recommends they do; impose the least onerous conditions of release.
As noted earlier, bail reduction hearing are part of the TSCCBF’s “bail+” strategy for helping to reduce the number of pretrial detainees. However, judges need updated, relevant information about a defendant’s circumstances to justify setting less onerous pretrial release conditions, even after they have decided on an initial bond amount. This realization led us to create a new community resource we are happy to share: BAIL REDUCTION/PRETRIAL RELEASE ADVOCACY.
In the new “Community Resources” section of this website, we have added the name of a local mitigation specialist willing to help indigent defendants held in pretrial detention at the jail, their families, and interested court appointed defense counsel advocate for bond reductions, and more favorable pretrial release conditions generally. (Court appointed counsel is private contract counsel appointed by the Pima County Office of Court Appointed Counsel (OCAC)—not Public Defenders or Legal Defenders, who have different resource capabilities.)
This is an exciting development, and TSCCBF plans to periodically update our new “Community Resources” section with other local non-profits, grassroots groups & coalitions, volunteer programs, and advocacy and support service providers who are also working to end mass incarceration.