Oversight guaranteed for Pre-trial Release Programs

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Citizens’ Right to Know Act (H.R. 2152) guaranteeing oversight of pre-trial release programs.  The Act, sponsored by Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas), requires pre-trial release programs to provide Congress with information on how federal funds and grants are being used.  Pre-trial services across the nation receive a significant amount of money from the federal government.  The Act will ensure that Congress is kept abreast of how much money is being distributed to each program, information about the defendants that are participating in the program and how the money is being spent.  Failure to comply with the act could result in withholdings of future grants and other sources of federal funding.

Representative Poe hopes that by passing this bill it will require programs to continuously monitor and report back on released defendants.  With little oversight, many fear that dangerous criminals are being released back on the street, committing more crimes and putting the community at risk.  Record-keeping and reporting will now be required by all pre-trial services that receive any type of funding from the Department of Justice.  Programs will have to report criminal history, any failures to appear in court and other criminal acts.

The Act passed the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 14 – 10.  The Department of Justice will be required to publish the information received from reporting and must reduce grant allocations for state or local governments that fail to comply.

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