Court System and Judicial Process

Court System

Booking, Charging, cash Bail, Sentencing,
Probation, parole, Alternatives to Incarceration

What follows are the “raw notes” from the forum “Hope, Opportunity, & Race,” held at the Chase Riverfront Center on Nov. 14., organized by the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow. Captured by meeting facilitators, they represent ideas discussed at five action-oriented workshops held during the forum.  These notes are not definitive and do not represent the position of the Coalition, but rather reflect the unmediated concerns and ideas of participants in the forum.

In the weeks following the forum, these action items will be evaluated, sifted, sorted, and assigned to existing Action Committees. In some cases, new working groups will be formed to address issues not already covered by the Coalition’s existing structure. They will be further refined at the Coalition’s open public meeting on December 7 at Hanover Presbyterian Church.

Check the Coalition’s meeting schedule and join the conversation in person.  Your comments are also welcome at 

  1. Support at Booking
  • Everyone should have a psychological evaluation after arrest to determine whether they go to jail or drug treatment or mental health treatment.
  • Providing an advocate to youthful first-accused, to assist in traversing the criminal justice system. (Similar to CASA court appointed special advocate.)
  • Assign a caseworker immediately upon arrest to help with the process.
  1. Change Sentencing
  • Eliminate habitual offender (Get community involved.)
  • Prison time for violent crimes only.
  • Make punishments for non-violent crimes fit the crime. (Repay with interest, community service, etc.)
  • De-criminalize non-violent behaviors; instead use treatment, restorative justice, or community service.
  1. Oversight
  • Independent oversight/separation between police and prosecutors.
  • More objective criteria for charging rather than relying on police discretion.
  • More oversight of police officer total ability to charge make
  • Have a citizen oversight committee (Citizen Review Board)
    • Police
    • Probation
    • Sentencing
    • Mandatory Min.
  1. Court Process
  • Charging authority
    • Limited
    • Burden of Proof
  • Elect judges and people in power
  • Shorten the time between arrest and sentencing by the court
  • Upgrade Magistrate court judges’ qualifications
  1. Legislative Action
  • Lobby Legislators to accept more commutations and re-establish parole
  • Re-evaluate criminal code to
    • Look at minor drug crimes
    • End mandatory minimums
    • Developing mandated treatment alternatives
  1. Prison and Probation Processes
  • Better access to court-mandated services for probation; e.g. eve/wkend hours for treatment
  • Prison = warehouse
    • Need education, counseling, life skills, job training
  • Address probation times and availability of probation officers
  • Facilitate success of probationers through prioritizing requirements of probation and expanding hours and convenience of probation
  1. Alternatives to Incarceration
  • Drug treatment and counseling should be made available on evenings and weekends so that people do not lose their jobs or end up back in jail for probation violation
  • Additional mental health services for community and criminal justice system
  • Alternative pre-trial detention
  • Objective and uniform criteria to justify arrest and increased transparency and/or public access to police procedures
  1. Change/Eliminate Money Bail System
  • Alternatives to cash bail and increase speedy trial for misdemeanor and/or less complex charges
  • Minmize pre-trial lock-up
  • Limit cash bail to violent crimes
  • Eliminate cash bail except most serious crimes
  • Eliminate cash bail
  • Change cash bail system for non-violent offenses