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Criminal Justice Reform

Renee's guest is Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI). Burdeen talks about her organization's mission to reduce incarceration rates and their efforts to reform the bail system.
Season 13 Episode 34 Length 28:32 Premiere: 06/22/18

Reforming the Bail System and Other Criminal Justice Issues

Lawmakers in Kentucky and elsewhere around the nation are exploring a range of reforms that can decrease prison populations and correctional costs, reduce recidivism, and ensure public safety. Many of those efforts focus on what happens to an offender after they’ve been convicted.

But bail reform advocate Cherise Fanno Burdeen says important opportunities for reforming criminal justice come much earlier in the process.

“More people will serve time in pretrial detention in America than will ever serve time upon sentencing,” Burdeen says. “This is really where mass incarceration lives.”

Burdeen is CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute, a Maryland-based non-profit organization that promotes evidence-informed policies that can eliminate race, gender, and social class disparities during the pretrial phase of criminal justice proceedings. She appeared on KET’s Connections to discuss how changes to America’s money bail system could dramatically reduce prison populations.

Some 30,000 people are arrested every day in America, according to Burdeen. She says only a fraction of those people face serious felony charges like rape, murder, or arson. About three-quarters of them are held on misdemeanor charges for low-level, nonviolent offenses such as property or drug crimes.

“Yet we process everyone almost exactly the same way from the shoplifter to the murderer,” she says.

When a person is arrested and booked into jail, the court will set bail conditions based on the crime allegedly committed. Burdeen says bail is a contract between the defendant and the courts that says he or she will abide by certain conditions before his or her trial. Money bond is just one kind of bail. In some cases the defendant must pay the full bond or some percentage of it to be released. In other cases, the defendant promises to pay the bail bond amount should they fail to return to court. In either situation, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution precludes excessive bail amounts.

“What our forefathers actually meant by that was that the state has no right to impose upon you conditions that exceed what would be most likely to get you back into court,” Burdeen says.

The Problems with Money Bail
Advocates of money bail say it helps guarantee that a defendant will appear for their court date. But critics contend the system creates problems on both sides of the financial spectrum. Individuals who have the funds to make bail may be released even if they are charged with a serious or violent crime, whereas low-level offenders who are too poor to pay their bail may sit in jail for days, weeks, or months awaiting trail.

Those individuals have not been convicted of any crime, yet they are removed from their families, their communities, and their jobs. Burdeen says missing work for even a few days can have far-reaching consequences for most people.

“Loss of employment equals loss of income, and loss of income is destabilizing to homes and families,” she says. “I’ve heard way too many stories of people who have lost their ability to pay rent and been evicted from their homes while their loved one was incarcerated in a pretrial status.”

The irony is most charges are “probation presumptive,” says Burdeen, meaning the judge can release the defendant on probation after their court proceeding. So while they may have been incarcerated for days because they couldn’t afford their bail, the judge can release them and no more time will be served.

Burdeen questions why a person who is safe enough to be released after seeing a judge isn’t safe enough to release while they await their court date. She says that amounts to extracting punishment prior to a conviction.

Meanwhile, taxpayers are stuck with the bill to house individuals who ultimately receive probation or a not guilty verdict simply because they couldn’t afford bail. Burdeen says the current bail and incarceration system costs about $14 billion a year. She argues that this money that could be better used to fund health care, education, and job training for everyone, rather than to maintain a bail system that disproportionately incarcerates poor and minority individuals.

“This isn’t about eliminating bail,” Burdeen says. “What we’re working on is replacing financial conditions of release simply because they don’t work with conditions that we know can support people in the community and have it be more likely that they will come to court.”

Alternatives to Money Bail
Even a few days in jail can be traumatic for people beyond the potential of job loss.

“If you’re a high-risk individual [with] a history of violence, you’re unlikely to have been impacted by a few days or a few weeks in jail,” Burdeen says. “But if you come in as a low-risk individual, this is a setting which attaches itself to your psyche, and you will come out higher risk.”

Burdeen says imprisonment shouldn’t be used as a catch-all for anyone who misbehaves. Instead, she says jail should be reserved for people who truly deserve incarceration, while those with problems like an addiction should get diverted into programs specially designed for them.

“When we do come in contact with folks who have behavioral health needs, or are under-educated or under-employed, we have an opportunity to redirect them into other social service networks within our commonwealth that will produce better outcomes,” she says.

The Pretrial Justice Institute suggests a range of options for reducing pretrial prison stays, some of which Burdeen says have proven successful in the District of Columbia as well as in New Jersey and other states. These include:

– Move away from money bail. Burdeen says a judge in one court case found no credible evidence that a money bond works as incentive to get people to return for their court appearance. In fact, she says some research indicates people who promise to pay bail if they don’t return are just as likely to appear as those people who have to post bond to be released.

– Rewrite statutes to allow police to issue citations for certain low-level offenses instead of requiring that they take an offender into custody.

– Employ more data-driven pretrial assessments to help judges better determine the true flight or public safety risk of an offender and whether he or she may need drug or mental health treatment or other social services.

– Make procedural changes that will enable courts to process cases faster and ensure that detention is not used as a way to extract a plea bargain from a defendant.

Burdeen says making these kinds of reforms helped the state of New Jersey keep 125,000 people out of its criminal justice system last year. She says that enables law enforcement and the courts to focus their resources on protecting the public from truly dangerous criminals and on solving crimes.

“We can get detention in this country down to under 10 percent of those arrested,” Burdeen says. “That’s what we’re seeing in D.C. and New Jersey, and I’d love to see that here in Kentucky.”

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Season 13 Episodes

Marcie Timmerman - Mental Health and Wellness

S13 E43 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 08/24/18

Tiffany Manuel - Affordable Housing

S13 E42 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 08/17/18

Jessica Dueñas - 2019 Kentucky Teacher of the Year

S13 E41 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 08/10/18

2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book

S13 E37 Length 28:48 Premiere Date 07/13/18

A New Task Force on Opioids

S13 E36 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 07/06/18

Shining a Spotlight on Epilepsy

S13 E35 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 06/29/18

Criminal Justice Reform

S13 E34 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 06/22/18

Jay Box - Kentucky Community and Technical College

S13 E33 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 06/15/18

Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis

S13 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 06/08/18

Bob King - Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

S13 E31 Length 28:09 Premiere Date 06/01/18

Rachel Childress - Lexington Habitat for Humanity

S13 E30 Length 26:22 Premiere Date 05/25/18

2018 Kentucky Primary Races

S13 E29 Length 29:52 Premiere Date 05/18/18

Dr. Donna Grigsby

S13 E28 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/11/18

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

S13 E27 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 05/04/18

Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

S13 E25 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 04/20/18

Child Marriage Laws in Kentucky - Donna Pollard

S13 E24 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 04/13/18

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

S13 E23 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 04/06/18

Secretary Derrick Ramsey - Apprenticeships

S13 E22 Length 28:09 Premiere Date 02/23/18

Educational Innovation

S13 E21 Length 28:45 Premiere Date 02/16/18

Gerald Smith

S13 E20 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 02/09/18

Perry Bacon Jr.

S13 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/02/18

DV8 Kitchen

S13 E17 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/19/18

Silas House, New Novel

S13 E16 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 01/16/18

Tawanda Owsley

S13 E15 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 01/05/18

Sexual Harassment Issues

S13 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 12/15/17

Disability Rates and Benefits

S13 E13 Length 27:27 Premiere Date 12/08/17

Good Samaritans

S13 E12 Length 28:42 Premiere Date 11/17/17

A Salute to Heroes

S13 E10 Length 26:18 Premiere Date 11/10/17

Legislative Health Policy

S13 E9 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 11/03/17

Elder Care

S13 E8 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 10/27/17

Preventing Youth Suicide

S13 E7 Length 28:17 Premiere Date 10/20/17

A Proposal for Pension Reform

S13 E6 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/13/17

Rethinking Pain Medication

S13 E5 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 10/06/17

Former Gov. Steve Beshear

S13 E4 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 09/29/17

Secretary Elaine Chao

S13 E3 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/22/17

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

S13 E2 Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

Author and Journalist Sam Quinones

S13 E1 Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/01/17

Author and Journalist Sam Quinones

Preview Length 28:52 Premiere Date 09/01/17

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Sexual Harassment Issues - Consultant Rus Funk

Premiered On: 12/15/2017

Renee's guest is Rus Funk, a consultant on gender equity, anti-racism, and violence prevention. He serves on the board of the National Center on Sexual and Domestic Violence. Funk talks about the spate of sexual harassment charges that have dominated news headlines and offers advice on helping men learn how to modify their behavior to create a professional and respectful work environment.

  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY
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  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Silas House

Premiered On: 01/12/2018

Novelist, activist, and educator Silas House discusses his book to be released later this year that focuses on parenthood, his work as an advocate for environmental and gender equity causes, and other topics.

  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 28, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY
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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

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UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

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Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

  • Monday November 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

  • Saturday November 26, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

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Jason Merrick - S11 E35

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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

  • Monday November 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

  • Sunday November 20, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

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Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

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Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

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Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

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Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

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Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

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Crystal Wilkinson - S11 E26

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Criminal Justice Reform - Cherise Fanno Burdeen - S13 E34

  • Thursday November 3, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes - S11 E25

  • Thursday November 3, 2022 2:16 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 3, 2022 1:16 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 3, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention - S11 E24

  • Wednesday November 2, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 2, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 2, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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A Tribute to Georgia Davis Powers - S11 E18

  • Tuesday November 1, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 1, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 1, 2022 2:18 pm ET on KETKY
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Andrew Brennen - S11 E17

  • Monday October 31, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday October 31, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Breast Cancer - S18 E8

  • Sunday November 6, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday November 5, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Sunday October 30, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
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  • Sunday October 30, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 30, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
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Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams - S18 E7

  • Sunday October 30, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 30, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday October 29, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Anthony Smith - S11 E16

  • Friday October 28, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Wayne Lewis - S11 E15

  • Thursday October 27, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Thursday October 27, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear - S11 E11

  • Wednesday October 26, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday October 26, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday October 26, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday October 26, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday October 26, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Miss Kentucky Clark Davis - S11 E10

  • Tuesday October 25, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday October 25, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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