Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Pretrial Justice Program to serve defendants, ease overcrowding

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Operating on the presumption that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty, the “Lincoln County Pretrial Justice Program” has been established to assist defendants and manage the inmate population prior to trial.

“The Pretrial Justice Program is an effective way to manage the inmate population in the jail to prevent overcrowding while making sure people show up for court and do not commit further crimes,” Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers said.

The new program added its first defendants Monday, Oct. 15.

In a news release prepared by Lincoln County Jail Commander Jamie Russell it was noted that harm can be done to defendants who are unnecessarily detained prior to trial. Detained defendants can suffer loss of employment and housing, become separated from loved ones, experience family disruption, have higher odds of recidivism and receive harsher sentences than similarly situated defendants who are released from jail prior to trial.

The goals of the program are:

  1. Help courts make informed bail decisions, including non-financial options for release of appropriate defendants;
  2. Ensure that release options are realistic, enforceable and measurable;
  3. Promote maximized pretrial release appearances, public safety and compliance outcomes.

Two pretrial specialist positions were approved through the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners to provide recommendations to the courts. The recommendations will occur after the pretrial specialist has verified information pertinent to the defendant’s possible release.

If approved for release into the program, defendants will be monitored by the pretrial specialist to ensure they are following the conditions as outlined by the judge. They will receive phone reminders prior to their court appearances.

The Lincoln County Jail has approximately 50 percent of the inmate population on pretrial status. Through the process of building the Pretrial Justice Program, the hope is to reduce this percentage to then allow beds for those who must remain in custody.

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This information was provided for dissemination to our readers and was edited to comply with Associated Press style and professional journalism standards by Homepage staff.

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