Logo for the Tennessee Pretrial Symposium series featuring three white stars in a blue circle inside the outline of the state

Pretrial reform and bail reform is a win-win situation.” — Judge Ronald Adrine

In September, Tennessee prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, sheriffs, pretrial services practitioners and others gathered virtually to learn from national pretrial experts and local county officials who are leading the way in pretrial reform.

Full videos of the three sessions as well as interviews with retired Judge Ronald Adrine, who helped lead successful pretrial reform efforts in Ohio, and Spurgeon Kennedy, president of the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, are available below or by clicking here.

The Crime and Justice Institute hosted the three-part virtual symposium series in partnership with the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs (OCJP). Originally planned as an in-person event, the COVID-19 pandemic required the organizers to reconfigure the event to share valuable information and ideas for carrying forward the momentum of innovations already happening throughout the state.

We now know more about risk today than we’ve ever known.” — NAPSA President Spurgeon Kennedy

Tennessee’s rising incarceration rate now stands at 10% above the national average and pretrial detention accounts for 38% of the growth in total incarcerations from 1991 to 2018. This growth has strained resources and contributed to overcrowding in many jails. OCJP and Tennessee pretrial leaders are dedicated to reversing this trend and have started to address the issue of pretrial detention with data-driven and evidence-based solutions.

The virtual symposium series brought pretrial stakeholders from across the state and different agencies together to learn about data-driven decision making, development of tools to assess risk and improve release decisions, and safe alternatives to cash bail and pretrial detention. Local leaders came away with the knowledge to begin pursuing strategies shown to improve pretrial practices and produce better outcomes without sacrificing public safety.

Session One

The first session in the Tennessee Pretrial Symposium Series focuses on the state’s commitment to improving local pretrial systems. OCJP Director Jennifer Brinkman kicks off the webinar by sharing the office’s vision for pretrial justice in the state.

Next, Superintendent Justin Strand from Hamilton County and Sheriff John Mehr from Madison County, who lead OCJP-funded pretrial projects, serve as featured panelists. Superintendent Strand and Sheriff Mehr share their motivation for starting their pretrial projects and the steps they have taken so far to make positive changes in their jurisdictions.



Session Two

The second session examines common challenges facing pretrial systems and explores solutions to those challenges. Tara Blair, executive officer of the Kentucky Pretrial Services Department, explains how Kentucky was able to create an effective statewide pretrial services agency. Blair shares examples of lessons learned over the years and describes how Kentucky officials successfully overcame challenges as they developed their program.

Ms. Blair also explains how Kentucky relies on performance measures and best practices to continually enhance their program and offers advice on how pretrial leaders can improve their systems with limited resources.



Session Three

The final webinar in the Tennessee Pretrial Symposium Series focuses on the outcomes of pretrial reform efforts in Tennessee. Two local counties, Davidson and Knox, have been working to improve their pretrial systems over the past several years. Panelists include Judge Patricia Long from Knox County and Commissioner John Manson, Director Diana Brady, and Program Supervisor Scott Roberts from Davidson County.

The panelists explain how they identified opportunities for improvement and implemented pretrial reforms, the outcomes they have seen so far, and their priorities moving forward. The panelists also provide advice for pretrial stakeholders and leaders who are just getting started on their journey to improve their local pretrial systems.



Interview with Judge Ronald Adrine



Interview with Spurgeon Kennedy