LA County deputy public defender argued to release crime suspects pretrial

Posted 112 days ago


A Los Angeles County deputy public defender co-authored a proposal in 2020 arguing for the creation of a "needs-based pre-trial release system" from jail.

Rachel Pendleton co-wrote the paper while in law school at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2020. The proposal was part of a bail reform practicum within the criminal justice program at the law school.

The proposal, "Creating a needs-based pre-trial release system: The false dichotomy of money bail versus risk assessment tools," offers to "re-envision the pre-trial release process."

The plan offers a pretrial release "framework" that does not rely on money bail or risk-assessment tools and states the presumption of innocence in the pretrial process "can only be protected through a presumption of release."

"It puts the burden on prosecutors to meet an articulated standard regarding why an individual should be detained. The proposal does not use risk assessment tools, as there are concerns that these tools may result in greater numbers of people of color being subjected to pretrial detention, and rejects the notion that individuals should be viewed through a lens of risk," the proposal states.

Pendleton argues in the co-authored proposal that instead of the current pretrial process, every person "should be considered individually based on their strengths and self-identified needs and be offered the supports and resources they may need."

The proposal also calls for the establishment of a "new body," the "community care and support agency," whose mission would be to "provide support and resources to individuals pre-trial instead of law enforcement supervision."

In arguing against the usage of risk-assessment tools, the authors state that the tool depends "on data such as prior arrests, convictions, and failures to appear, the data may reflect the actions and biases of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges far more accurately than the ‘risk' of any given individual."

The authors state that under their proposal, predetention can only be allowed if the individual "poses a high risk of intentional nonappearance" or "will pose a risk of serious physical violence to an identifiable person and that no condition(s) of release could reasonably mitigate these two risks."

If the individual poses a "risk of serious physical violence to an identifiable person," the prosecut... (Read more)