Pretrial reform program means additional funding for Nevada/Sierra and Yuba courts

NEVADA CITY, Calif. August 12, 2019 – The Judicial Council on Friday awarded millions of dollars to fund pretrial projects in 16 trial courts throughout the state. Among the recipients are the  Nevada/Sierra and Yuba Superior Courts.

In a news release by the Judicial Council of California, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye stated: “This is another example of action by the three branches of state government to address an issue of fairness and equal access to justice for all Californians. 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. 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 for all.”

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Nevada/Sierra only court consortium selected for the Pretrial Pilot program

The $331,000 funding will enhance and greatly expand the current pretrial program.  The only court consortium selected for the Pretrial Pilot program. Nevada and Sierra are in a unique position to collaborate on pretrial services as Sierra County inmates are housed at the Nevada County jail and the counties have a long history of collaboration.

  • Nevada County began developing a pretrial program in 2014. Currently, assessments are not completed until the District Attorney files the complaint, which restricts the ability to release individuals. Sierra County does not currently have a developed pretrial program but completes a lengthy bail report and recommends monitoring or various bail options to the judicial officer.
  • Pretrial Pilot funding will enable Nevada and Sierra to expand the number of prearraignment assessments and reports, and release. Probation would assess at the jail within 16 hours of booking.
  • Pretrial reports will be completed and delivered within 24 hours for all arrestees regardless of risk and statutory eligibility.
  • Judicial officers from both counties will be assigned to review reports and make release decisions, M-F, 7am-5pm, and an on-call judicial officer will be assigned for each county on weekends for 7 day/week coverage.

Yuba County

Courts in the small court category like Yuba County all demonstrated strong local collaboration and an ability to reach decisions quickly and amicably. Yuba Superior Court has been awarded $ 844,000.

  • In 2014, the Yuba County Pretrial Release Program was formed with representatives from the Court, the District Attorney, Sheriff’s Office, Probation Department, and the Public Defender.
  • Yuba has operated its current pretrial program since 2015. Probation currently conducts assessments on eligible individuals and does not provide monitoring services.
  • Pretrial Pilot funding will enable Yuba to perform risk assessments on all arrestees and monitoring of released defendants. Probation will interview booked arrestees at the jail as soon as practicable, within the 48-hour arraignment deadline.
  • Judicial officers will make release decisions as soon as practical after they receive the assessment report; the court always has an on-call judicial officer.

The pilot projects were recommended by the Pretrial Reform and Operations Workgroup, which was launched by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in January. The 12-person group includes trial court judges, appellate justices and court executive officers from courts of all sizes and from both rural and urban parts of the state.

“The majority of California’s trial courts applied to the program and selecting just 16 was no easy task,” said Justice Marsha G. Slough, who chairs the workgroup. “Their interest is a strong indicator of the judicial branch’s commitment to enhancing fairness, safety, and efficiency in the release of individuals before trial.”