Foundation Recognized for Its Support of Pretrial Reform

The National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) gave the Public Welfare Foundation its Partners Award for the foundation’s support of pretrial detention reform aimed at keeping more people out of jail and decreasing mass incarceration. The award was presented at the closing luncheon of NAPSA’s 43rd Annual Conference and Training Institute, held in Indianapolis, Indiana this week.

Although Mary McClymont, president of the Public Welfare Foundation, could not attend the conference, she told the 625 participants, in a pre-recorded message, that it has been a “privilege to work with NAPSA and so many other visionary partners” to advance smart pretrial reform.

The foundation became involved in the issue in 2011 when it was clear that pretrial reform, which had taken off in some places, like Washington, DC, had not been adopted widely across the country.

“There was a lot of work to be done,” McClymont recalled, “and we at Public Welfare wanted to help.” The board of directors strongly supported the decision to focus on advancing pretrial reform through increased use of risk assessment in order to reduce incarceration significantly, which is the overall goal of the foundation’s Criminal Justice program.

During the past four years, the partners have come together to address the fact that, on any given day, “some 500,000 people are forced to stay in jail simply because they cannot afford to make bail,” as McClymont put it.

“According to research we all know,” she added, “those jailed pending trial receive worse plea offers and, when convicted, receive more severe sentences and have higher recidivism rates compared to people with the same charge and the same criminal history who were released pretrial. Yet the research also shows that, with use of individualized risk assessment, a large portion of those held pretrial can be safely released to the community with supervision and they will return to court.”

McClymont also noted that, in the last few years, the need for bail reform has been highlighted by the media, from the John Oliver show to The New York Times; accepted more broadly by legislators, policymakers, and the public; and supported by more funders.

“Through the work of NAPSA and other partners,” she said, “there is more and more focus on risk assessment tools, bail reform, pretrial services and other ways to keep people out of jail who should not be there, while, at the same time, maintaining public safety.”

As she concluded, “We are thrilled to see our partnerships paying off – a new movement truly catalyzed.”


The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

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