The playwright Arthur Miller once said, “A good newspaper...is a nation talking to itself.” Right now, the nation is talking about bail. From national news outlets such as CNN and the New York Times to local coverage through outlets such as NC Policy Watch and Cleveland.com, the inherent unfairness of money bond and over-incarceration continue to gain attention.
When reporters come calling, it’s important to help them understand how pretrial justice operates in your jurisdiction, and how fairer, more effective practices can improve public safety, create better outcomes, and steward public resources. What we learned from our national poll of registered voters is that it’s not enough to talk about eliminating money bail, we have to talk about what we are going to put in its place to safely shift the default from detention to liberty —for example, by limiting the net of detention-eligible charges and ensuring a full due process is used to identify those who qualify for admission. When people learn more about legal and evidence-based practices, such as court reminders and community-based supports, they become more supportive of alternatives to money bail. Your voice can make a difference in changing pretrial justice.
As part of messaging month on the University of Pretrial, we would like to highlight the page on our website specifically geared toward the media. This page is a resource for anyone talking to the media about pretrial justice, especially when you’re looking for statistics or additional information. Honestly, it’s helpful for nearly any lay audience!
Here’s a quick tour of what you can find on our page for the media:
- Looking for national statistics on the problems with our current pretrial system? Go to Why America Needs Pretrial Reform.
- Ready to talk about solutions? Go to How to Fix Pretrial Justice and learn about the 4 R’s of pretrial reform: reduce arrest, replace cash bail, restrict detention and raise equity.
- For people ready to go more deeply into the issues, we recommend Essential Reports, a list of reports on major pretrial topics, such as the costs of the current system of pretrial justice, and pretrial assessments. Recent Reports is a current display of PJI’s most recent publications. You can read what Latinx voters want from pretrial in our new national poll, or case studies of pretrial practices in the District of Columbia and Allegheny County (PA).
- The Pretrial Blog (which you are currently reading) covers many issues we’re thinking about, in a quick, readable format. Here’s a favorite on the history of bail, and another one on LGBTQ in pretrial.
- The Newsroom features media coverage of pretrial justice, including many of the articles referenced above.
- Curious about what PJI is up to? Check out our Press Releases!
In addition to these resources, we also had a First Friday Forum (FFF) on pretrial messaging earlier this month. We are also offering media “office hours” with our vice president of Communications & Engagement—individual and small-group time to craft messages or develop communications strategies around pretrial on Wednesday, October 24, from noon to 1 p.m. Sign up here.