Leaders observe Montgomery’s efforts to improve pretrial policies

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 10:36 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 4:31 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA)- National criminal justice leaders visited Montgomery Thursday to observe the efforts of Pretrial Alliance Montgomery.

What is the pretrial phase of the criminal justice process? According to Pretrial Alliance Montgomery, the pretrial phase begins with a person’s first contact with a law enforcement officer. It is followed by whether a person is placed under arrest. The process is then continued when a prosecutor decides to file criminal charges. Once charges are filed, a decision is then made if the person will remain in the community pending trial or remain in jail pending trial.

Across the country, states, counties and cities are undertaking efforts to advance pretrial justice. The Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research Initiative guides those selected research-action site efforts and inform policymakers and community members about the impact of changes.

In 2019, Pretrial Alliance Montgomery was created after Montgomery County was selected as an Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research Initiative research-action site. The group works to identify how the pretrial system can be improved to maximize court appearances and pretrial releases while maintaining community safety.

“Our vision for pretrial justice in Montgomery County is one that promotes fairness and equity and balances concern for community safety, concern for all victims, and meet the needs of people in the pretrial phase,” said Judge Johnny Hardwick, Presiding Circuit Court Judge, 15th Judicial Circuit. “I am grateful to the many justice system professionals and community members for their contributions and thank Arnold Ventures for selecting Montgomery County to receive assistance with this important work.”

National criminal justice leaders will observe Pretrial Alliance Montgomery’s efforts during their visit and hear updates on pretrial improvement efforts.

The county is receiving intensive assistance from justice experts to study its system, analyze local data and implement research-based improvements responsive to local needs, according to Pretrial Alliance Montgomery. Independent researchers are studying Montgomery County and five other ResearchAction Sites to identify promising improvements that enhance community well-being and safety.

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