Study shows Pretrial Release Program is doing some good in Yakima County

Study shows Pretrial Release Program is doing some good in Yakima County.

YAKIMA, Wash. - An argument against pre-trial release is that criminals will have an easier time getting out and they will commit more crimes when they are free.

However, after looking at 500 cases before and after the pre-trial release program started, the numbers show more people are being let go, but the pretrial justice institute says crime isn't going up.

"We had a big number of people sitting in our jail that hadn't been found guilty of anything that could've been released if they had the money," Harold Delia said.

Delia is the site coordinator for the Pretrial Justice Reform Movement and said this not only helps people in jail, but the county's wallet as well.

He said they were only releasing around 51% of people before the program and housing the other half of those people can add up at $89 a night.

"Now we are releasing 79% of the people so we are saving huge amounts of money and not having them locked up in our detention facility," Delia said.

The study also showed people in minority groups are now being released at about the same rate as white people in Yakima County.

Multiple judges, such as Gayle Hitchcock, attended the meeting say this can be huge for an area that has a large Hispanic population.

"That's our population. That's who we serve,” she said. “So I just think it's important overall that everybody be treated fairly and equally."

While pre-trial has its positives, the study showed some areas where improvements can be made.

It said some people are held in jail, even though they are legally eligible to be let go because they are labeled as “Release not recommended.”

They might be considered high risk, but Claire Booker with Justice System Partners said they still has a high success rate of staying out of trouble.

"Even though they show up in this highest category for the pretrial assessment tool, it doesn't me they are legally detainable pretrial," she said.

While the pre-trial release program may have done good for the jail, the county will keep looking at ways to make it more efficient and safe for the community.

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