Why do we need to
improve our pretrial system?

What is pretrial?

The pretrial phase of the criminal justice process begins with a person’s first contact with law enforcement up until the charge is resolved. There are many decision points during the pretrial phase. These points start with the decision by a law enforcement officer to make contact with a person and whether to pursue action (e.g., make an arrest); and include other points in the process such as a determination by the prosecutor about whether to file criminal charges. Once charges are filed, a judicial officer ultimately determines whether the person will remain in the community pending trial or will be detained in jail pending trial.

We want a balanced, fair, and compassionate pretrial system that is transparent and clear to all concerned. Since 2019, PAM has worked in collaboration with justice stakeholders, the courts, law enforcement, advocacy groups, victim’s groups, and other community members to research, examine, and dissect our pretrial process to understand its impact on the community, victims, and people who are justice-involved. We have been developing principles based on evidence-informed pretrial options that we believe are fair and just.

Our goal is to create a system that reserves jail for those who pose a public safety risk, increase community well-being, and reduces disparities based on wealth or race. Read more about the work PAM is doing.