Washington, DC (Sept. 21, 2015) – 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, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has published the Colorado Bail Book: A Defense Attorney's Guide to Adult Pretrial Release and made it available today to Colorado defenders at their annual conference.
As recently as 2011, some 60-plus percent of inmates in local jails nationwide were awaiting trial, and accordingly were presumed innocent. Of course, people in pretrial detention often lose their employment, businesses, and housing; suffer education disruptions; and experience serious damage to family relationships. Obtaining pretrial release, therefore, is an essential part of the promise of Gideon that defense lawyers are committed to provide.
Colorado recently overhauled its pretrial release statutes, embracing the use of risk assessments and setting a clear presumption that individuals who have not yet been convicted of the crime for which they are accused should be free pending trial. This manual is designed to give Colorado practitioners the guidance needed to achieve pretrial release for clients. It builds on the work done in Kentucky by its Department of Public Advocacy in developing a pretrial release manual for use there.
As NACDL President E.G. "Gerry" Morris explained, "In the 1987 decision in Salerno v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court observed that ‘[i]n our society, liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception.' Despite this core principle, though, it is abundantly clear that the exception has swallowed the rule. Accordingly, together with its ongoing advocacy for reform in the areas of pretrial detention and the use of financial bond, NACDL is committed to providing the criminal defense bar with the tools it needs, like this manual, to vigorously and effectively advocate for clients' pretrial release."
NACDL's Director of Indigent Defense Training and Reform Colette Tvedt noted that "this project reflects NACDL's commitment to fostering the expertise of the criminal defense profession, and fulfills the Association's well-established policy emphasizing pretrial release and the limited use of financial bond, which disproportionately impacts poor and working class individuals and effectively coerces even innocent defendants into pleading guilty in exchange for a sentence of ‘time served.'"
The Colorado Bail Book is available for download here. Similar manuals for two more jurisdictions are forthcoming in 2016.
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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.