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CJCC Releases its 2020 Annual Report

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The Charleston County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, or CJCC, today released its 2020 Annual Report illustrating key system trends, outlining results to-date, and identifying opportunities for further targeted improvement efforts within the local criminal justice system. The CJCC’s efforts continue to underscore the importance of intentional, data-guided strategies that engage the community in improving the local criminal justice system.  

The report demonstrates that strategies such as prioritizing alternatives to jail for lower level charges and supporting the use of community-based options for individuals experiencing homelessness, mental illness and/or substance use disorders are making a difference. Highlighted results from the 2014 baseline to 2020 include:

  • Local bookings in the jail decreased by 62%
  • Bookings for specifically targeted municipal and magistrate charges decreased by 84%,
  • The number of municipal and magistrate charges entering the jail decreased by 78%
  • The number of individuals cycling repeatedly through the jail decreased by 63%
  • Local jail population decreased by 38%

“Thankfully, the positive trends we have seen in our local justice system were already happening  prior to COVID-19 and, even with the pandemic, we’re continuing to see progress. The data further underscores the importance of pursuing our FY 21- FY 23 strategic plan objectives to sustain and build on this progress,” said CJCC Chairman, Captain Jason Bruder, Charleston Police  Department.

The report notes that the challenges in Charleston County’s local justice system are complex and  key data indicates areas in need of further intervention. These areas include:  ∙ Charleston’s local jail population is almost entirely pretrial with lengths of stay increasing as charges coming in are more serious than they used to be (most often General Sessions).

  • The majority of defendants released into the community while their cases are pending do  not get re-arrested while waiting for court, and a minority are consistently and repeatedly  re-arrested.
  • Defendants that are re-arrested do so most often within six months of release, and they are (on average) re-arrested more than once while waiting for court
  • There are also defendants eligible for pretrial release that stay for a longer period of time  because of limited resources to afford a financial bond.
  • Releases on financial bonds consistently have worse outcomes than those released on their  own recognizance, and judges have limited options and services available to address these  challenges and barriers
  • The time to disposition, in General Sessions, is increasing and the number of cases awaiting  justice is growing. Current estimates suggest if the pace of case processing experienced in  2020 continued cases pending could grow by approximately 40% in roughly two and a half  years.

“The results the CJCC achieved through collaborative and deliberate, data-guided solutions speaks  volumes about what can be achieved through focused community-wide collaboration. The data  shows that progress is continuing and we must not fall backwards. While a lot has been  accomplished, there is still much more to do,” said Otha Meadows, CJCC Community  Representative, President & CEO, Charleston Urban League.

A sample of FY 21 – FY 23 Strategic Plan initiatives moving forward include:

  • Launching a Race Equity Fellowship program for community leaders to advance equity
  • Piloting a Jail-Involved Familiar Face initiative to achieve positive outcomes for individuals that most often cycle in and out of jail
  • Advancing a proposal for pretrial service option(s) that help maximize safety, appearance  and liberty
  • Supporting effective case management efforts to help reduce the backlog of cases.

To read the 2020 Annual Report or for more information about the CJCC, visit cjcc.charlestoncounty.org.

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