Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research

Pulaski County Policy Team

Herb Wright
Circuit Court Judge

Cathleen Compton
Circuit Court Judge

Barry Sims
Circuit Court Judge

Milas Hale
District Court Judge

Melanie Martin
District Court Judge

Gregg Parrish
Public Defender

Tonia Acker
Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Barry Hyde
County Judge

Eric Higgins
Pulaski County Sheriff

Lisa Evans
CSU Director

Nick Zaller
UAMS College of Public Health

Muskie Harris
Rehab Services Coordinator

Marion Humphrey
Attorney at Law

Charles Hendricks
Chief, Pulaski County Jail

Chastity Scifres
HR Director, Pulaski County

Advancing Pretrial Justice

  • 12M
  • The number of individuals admitted to jail in the U.S. every year.
  • 465k
  • The number of people held in jail before their trials every day in the U.S. – often because they can’t afford bail.
  • $14B
  • The amount spent in the U.S. every year to jail those who haven’t been convicted of any crime.

Through a competitive review process, Pulaski County was invited to join the Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research (APPR) initiative. As an APPR Research-Action Site, Pulaski County justice partners are committing to a sustained five-year effort of planned research and implementation activities (August 2020 – August 2025).

Partners include circuit court judges, the County Sheriff, the County Judge, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Commission, the Pulaski County Crisis Stabilization Unit Director, the UAMS College of Public Health, local drug and alcohol abuse facilities, and community advocates.

Partners will review the pretrial process and study a pretrial assessment using local data to determine the value it will bring to pretrial decision-making.

“Currently, the pretrial experience for people in Pulaski can vary depending on which judge handles the case. Our hope is to set a uniform path—from arrest to trial—for everyone,” said Circuit Court Judge Herb Wright in an interview with APPR. “We believe this path will lead to a fairer, more equitable system for people who are accused of a crime.”

Pulaski County will be a member of the APPR initiative for five years. The first year will involve a robust planning process of research and analyses, guided by local justice system leaders that include

  • Circuit Courts,
  • District Courts,
  • County Judge’s Office,
  • Sheriff’s Office,
  • Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,
  • Public Defender’s Commission,
  • Pulaski County Crisis Stabilization Unit Director,
  • UAMS College of Public Health
  • Local drug and alcohol abuse facilities and community advocates.

“This is a monumental step in Pulaski County toward criminal justice reform. I’m honored to support the policy team by facilitating state actors and County resources, for a plan to improve the existing pretrial system and eventually implement a pretrial assessment tool,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde.

Additional pretrial advancements will follow after the planning phase. These could include improvements successfully implemented by other jurisdictions, such as:

  • consistency and uniformity in pretrial processes
  • streamlining of pretrial processes
  • identifying opportunities to divert appropriate individuals from traditional criminal justice processing; and
  • developing robust pretrial services to support people before their court dates.

Improvements identified in Pulaski County will be disseminated widely to advance research-based pretrial policies and practices nationally.

ABOUT APPR

Through research, technical assistance, and online learning, APPR is dedicated to achieving fair, just, effective pretrial practices, every day, throughout the nation. A project of the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice, APPR is led by the Center for Effective Public Policy with support from Arnold Ventures. Independent research is being conducted by RTI International. Learn more at advancingpretrial.org.