News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan "Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017"

Washington, DC (July 20, 2017) – Today, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) jointly introduced the "Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017." This legislation would help bring about more just pretrial release determinations and represents a clear recognition of the vital role of counsel at the pretrial stage. If enacted, it would authorize a $10 million grant to incentivize and encourage states to end the practice of money bail. Principles for obtaining grants under the bill include replacing money bail with individualized, pretrial guidelines that favor release as well as appointment of counsel at the earliest possible stage of pretrial detention, approaches strongly supported by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The bill would also encourage states to institute a system of data collection and reporting that includes steps to ensure that risk assessment tools do not result in racial, ethnic, gender, or class disparities.

"NACDL applauds the bipartisan introduction of this important legislation," said NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. "Long-standing NACDL policy supports the right of every person accused of a crime to argue for pretrial release, the right to have counsel to make that argument, and a strong presumption in favor of pretrial release. Our jails should not be filled with people detained before trial. Since every person is innocent until proven guilty, pretrial detention should be the exception, not the rule. Nor should pre-trial release be conditioned on the ability to post money bonds. Conditioning release on the payment of bail results in people being incarcerated solely because they lack financial means. Pretrial detention disproportionately affects poor and minority defendants. It is encouraging that there is bipartisan support for a bill that recognizes the importance of addressing the critical issues raised by unnecessary pretrial detention."

As set forth in NACDL's policy Concerning Pretrial Release and Limited Use of Financial Bond, "NACDL supports the establishment of concrete guidelines to govern the determination of whether and under what conditions an accused is released pretrial. These guidelines shall presumptively favor release on personal recognizance. Consistent with the current ABA Standards on Pretrial Release, these guidelines permit the denial of bail only when the judicial officer finds clear and convincing evidence the accused represents a significant risk of flight or imminent physical harm to others."

In 2016, NACDL, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, and with grant support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, published the New Jersey Pretrial Justice Manual in an effort to support New Jersey attorneys as they work to end pretrial injustice in the state.

In 2015, NACDL, in partnership with the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender and the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, and with grant support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, published the Colorado Bail Book: A Defense Attorney's Guide to Adult Pretrial Release.

In connection with both manuals, NACDL conducted trainings in both states for nearly 600 public defense providers. Similar manuals for more jurisdictions are forthcoming.

For more information on NACDL's work in the area of pretrial release reform, please visit

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Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.