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UMKC Criminal Justice Professor to Testify at Congressional Briefing

Dr. Holsinger will discuss his pretrial justice work in Johnson County

Alex Holsinger, professor in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, has been invited to provide testimony Tuesday at a congressional briefing in Washington.

The theme is “Pretrial Justice: Research Evidence and Future Prospects,” a subject that has garnered attention in recent months. Speakers will present research on local, state and federal pretrial issues including pretrial detention, risk assessment, cost-benefit analysis, the use of bail and diversion.

“Pretrial detention has huge ramifications because it influences so many things, and is only superseded in justice decision-making importance by police arrests,” said Holsinger, who has served as UMKC faculty since 1999. “Statistically, the longer you’re held in a detention center, the higher the chance of conviction and the longer the sentence. Because rich people can afford to post bail, they’re more likely to be found innocent and serve shorter sentences compared to less affluent people. That’s not right.”

Holsinger will be speaking about his work with the Johnson County District Court. He has been working with Rise Haneberg, Johnson County criminal justice coordinator, and a group of stakeholders to develop a pretrial risk assessment tool.

“This is perhaps one of the most important decisions in the judicial process, as research tells us that time spent in jail leads to higher likelihood of negative outcomes for the defendant such as loss of job, loss of family ties, greater chance of conviction and further criminal living patterns upon release,” Haneberg said. “Many citizens do not realize that more than 60 percent of our jail population, along with most in the country, is comprised of pre-convicted defendants, not those serving sentences.”

Haneberg credits Holsinger and the UMKC Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice with Johnson County proving to be one of the leaders in the U.S. in establishing best pretrial practices.

“Clearly it is essential as criminal justice becomes more science-based in our ability to assess and effectively predict risk, a research-practitioner relationship is essential,” Haneberg said. “We have found that partner in Dr. Holsinger and we are so very fortunate that he is a nationally recognized leader in the field.”

The congressional briefing is hosted by the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University in Virginia and the Pretrial Justice Institute.

| Stacy Downs, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

 


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