Issues: Criminal and Juvenile Justice

Pretrial Justice

MDRC is studying reforms in the court processes that are used to decide whether people charged with a crime will be detained in jail while awaiting trial. 

The Latest
Brief

Pretrial release and detention decisions for defendants are increasingly guided by risk assessments guided by data, which are intended to counteract biases but have the potential to introduce new biases and perpetuate racial disparities. This research brief describes the approach taken by MDRC to understand, assess, and address these biases.

Report

In 2017, New Jersey implemented sweeping changes to its pretrial justice system. This report is one of a planned series on the impacts of those changes. It describes how the reforms affected short-term outcomes including arrests, complaint charging decisions, release conditions, and initial jail bookings.

Key Documents
Brief

An Alternative to Bail

Defendants awaiting trial and unable to post bail are often detained in local jails unnecessarily, disrupting their lives and adding to costs for taxpayers. To address this situation, New York City has launched a program that gives judges the option to release some defendants to community-based supervision. 

Issue Focus

Improving Outcomes for Clients While Helping Systems Further Their Missions

This issue focus describes how MDRC is helping administrators in criminal justice and child support enforcement test innovative reforms to improve the way their systems interact with low-income people, particularly men of color.