PRETRIAL JUSTICE MODERNIZATION IN EL PASO, TEXAS
2020 NACo Achievement Award Winner
El Paso County, Texas, TX
Best In Category
About the Program
Category: Criminal Justice and Public Safety (Best in Category)
For the last five years, the County has taken extraordinary measures to revolutionize its pretrial justice system resulting in a more efficient system without compromising public safety. On orders from the Commissioners Court, a Pretrial Services Department and a 24-hour Magistration Program were created in 2015. With the implementation of both programs as well as other innovative measures established by District Attorneyâs Office, the jail population has been significantly transformed. The misdemeanor pretrial population has decreased by 50 percent while the more dangerous felony population has increased by 15 percentâshowing signs of a much more strategic pretrial justice approach. The new system has improved communication and coordination among various departments leading to a quick and efficient process to identify inmates who are low risk and indigent, and qualify for personal recognizance bonds. This prevents defendants from sitting in jail solely because they cannot afford a bond. Overall, there has been an 8 percent reduction in the pretrial population at the county jail. In addition, the County created a unique re-entry program to target higher risk groups for recidivism for individualized programming and re-entry services, creating a positive, evidence-based strategy for their release back into the community.