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Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research on 10/2024 by Zerline Hughes Spruill
The population of Cass County, Indiana, is 37,500. If all its residents attended an NFL game at the smallest stadium in the league, the arena would be only half full. But while it may be a small, rural community, the county answered a very big challenge around pretrial justice and jail crowding.
Before implementing pretrial improvements, the county’s average jail population was nearly 50 percent over capacity, and 70 percent of people in jail were there pretrial—many solely because they could not afford to pay a financial release condition.
In 2018, the county launched Cass County Court and Pretrial Services (CCCPS) and shifted to using evidence-based pretrial practices, including voluntary referrals to supportive services, reduced reliance on monetary bonds as a release condition, and a pretrial assessment tool to inform decision making. The county also collected data to analyze pretrial outcomes and shared that data with all system stakeholders.
By 2022, the jail’s pretrial population had dropped by 80 percent, saving the county nearly $1 million by decreasing unnecessary pretrial detention.