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H.R. 2152: Citizens’ Right to Know Act of 2018

May 9, 2018 at 4:11 p.m. ET. On Passage of the Bill in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 2152 (115th) in the House.

H.R. 2152 requires state or local governments that receive funds under Department of Justice (DOJ) grant programs for pretrial services to annually report the amount of funds received by the pretrial services program and certain information about participating defendants. Additionally, the bill requires the DOJ must publish the information and must reduce the grant allocation of a state or local government that fails to comply.

Until the 1960s, the options for those defendants accused of a crime were release on one's own recognizance (ROR), commercial bail, or incarceration. The intent of commercial bail was to ensure the appearance of the defendant in court at no cost to the taxpayer. In 1961, the first U.S. pretrial services program, the Manhattan Bail Project, was established. A pretrial services program provides the bail-setting court with information and options to help the court make an informed pretrial release decision and may provide supervision of those released by the court with conditions. The program was designed to help defendants who were unable to post the financial surety bond conditions set in New York City. The program interviewed defendants to gather information on community ties to determine a defendant's likelihood of appearing in court. Based on these interviews, low-risk individuals were recommended for release on their own recognizance, or the defendants' promise to appear without financial obligation.

However, over the last four decades, pre-trial release programs have expanded well beyond their original scope and purpose. Today, there are over 300 pre-trial release programs nationwide whose participants routinely include violent and repeat offenders, many of whom are able to post a commercial bond and have done so in the past. In many instances, the federal government has become a major source of funding for pre-trial release programs.

H.R. 2152 responds to this development by requiring that the Attorney General, on an annual basis, submit a report to Congress containing the name of each defendant participating in a pretrial release program administered by a pretrial services program, each occasion on which such defendant failed to make an appearance, and information relating to the previous arrest record of each defendant participating in the pretrial services program. If a jurisdiction fails to produce a report in a given fiscal year, the jurisdiction will lose part of its grant funding for the following fiscal year.

Source: Republican Policy Committee

Totals

All Votes R D
Yea 53%
 
 
221
219
 
2
 
Nay 47%
 
 
197
8
 
189
 
Not Voting
 
 
10
8
 
2
 

Passed. Simple Majority Required. Source: house.gov.

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