Buncombe initiative aims to decrease pretrial incarceration for nonviolent defendants

Announcement from Buncombe County Government:

Often times, those awaiting trial are incarcerated, yet opportunities exist for them to safely wait at home instead, which relieves undue stress on families and costs on taxpayers. However, Buncombe County’s Pretrial Services is introducing an initiative called the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) aimed at diverting the nonviolent pretrial population from jail. “The PSA has the potential to rule out gender and racial bias when assessing risk and making decisions that impact individuals that are awaiting criminal trial,” explains Pre-Trial Release Program Manager Kim Moretz. “This can have larger implications on the overall jail population here in Buncombe County and create opportunities for individuals to safely engage in the community while awaiting trial.”

The PSA is part of a portfolio of pretrial services that work to maintain the safety of the community while reducing the burden of unnecessary incarceration by carefully vetting those eligible for diversion. Two upcoming information sessions will discuss the PSA and some of those other pretrial services, such as bond and current criminal processing procedures. “It’s important for people to attend so they can learn about the changes that will be taking place in our community and within the pretrial program, to share their feedback and lived experiences, and to ask questions that might help guide future conversations as move toward implementation,” says Moretz. If you would like to learn more or get involved with criminal justice improvements, please attend one of the below information sessions.

What: Jail, bail, and risk assessment information session

When: Thursday, Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-noon and 6-9 p.m.

Where: A-B Tech, Ferguson Auditorium, 340 Victoria Road

Refreshments will be provided. If possible, please RSVP by emailing JRC@BuncombeCounty.org.

For more information about the Pretrial Services, click here or contact Kim Moretz at kim.moretz@buncombecounty.org.

*This program is made possible by the Safety and Justice Challenge Grant. In 2018, the County in partnership with the Justice Resource Advisory Council received $1.75 million from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to implement strategies to reduce jail numbers by addressing the main drivers of the County’s jail population. The grant is part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a $148 million national initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

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