Trial courts in Alameda, Napa, San Mateo and Sonoma counties are among 16 recipients of state funding totaling $75 million to develop pretrial pilot programs, according to the California Judicial Council.
The program aims to establish alternatives to bail bonds.
“When I first publicly called for a review of California’s pretrial detention system during my 2016 State of the Judiciary address, it was because I was questioning whether the current system effectively served its purpose or unfairly penalized the poor,” state Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in a news release issued by the council.
“My first workgroup on pretrial detention reform found that the current system was ‘unsafe and unfair.’ Today, we are harnessing innovation from courts throughout the state to make our system safer and fairer to all,” she said.
The Alameda County Superior Court, which does not currently operate a pretrial program, anticipates using its funding to employ judges on a 24/7 basis and implement an alert system, according to the Judicial Council.
Napa County, which has operated a pretrial program since 2011, plans to use its allotment to increase business hours, re-evaluate the program’s “exclusionary criteria,” and monitor higher risk populations, according to the council.
With its share, the San Mateo County court plans to expand the pretrial program it launched in 2000 by reviewing the release process and authorizing judicial officers to make release decisions prior to arraignment.
Pilot program funding will enable the Sonoma County court to extend pretrial release to more people, and ensure that everyone booked into custody on new charges is assessed for pre-trial eligibility, according to the council.