It has been estimated that nationally, more than 60 percent of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime, they are awaiting trial. Almost 500,000 defendants are in jail pretrial because they cannot afford to post bail. Three-quarters of pretrial detainees have been charged with a drug or property crime. They could remain incarcerated for days, months, and sometimes even years. They could lose their jobs, lose contact with loved ones, and lose the ability to care for their families. Many courts across the country are implementing bail reform. Bail reform allows more defendants charged with lower-level crimes to stay out of jail before trial, stay on their jobs, and stay in the community. What has been the experience of those courts that have implemented bail reform? Judge Roy Wiggins and Judge Elizabeth Trosch, from North Carolina’s 26thJudicial District in the City of Charlotte, discuss their Court’s experience implementing bail reform. How is it working and what we can expect?
This is an intriguing podcast episode for listeners curious about bail, bail reform, managing pretrial defendants, courts, and court administration.
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About the Guest Speakers
Judge Elizabeth Trosch has presided over both Civil and Criminal District Courtrooms, with an emphasis on Juvenile Law, Domestic Violence, Drug Treatment Court and Child Support Enforcement. In her capacity as a District Court Judge, Judge Trosch has also presided over the Mecklenburg County Youth Treatment Court and consistently volunteers to hold truancy court at a local elementary school. She is State Certified Juvenile Court Judge and has earned Domestic Child Sex Trafficking Judicial Institute Certificate.
Judge Trosch is a graduate of Hollins College, where she earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Social Psychology. She earned her law degree at Wake Forest University School of Law where she was a recipient of the North Carolina State Bar Pro Bono Service Award.
Judge Roy H. Wiggins received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, in 1984 (Deans List, Honor Roll) from East Carolina University. He received his Juris Doctor (Cum Laude) from the Campbell University School of Law in 1990. He was with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office (Assistant District Attorney) from 1991 to 1995. He was in private practice from 1995 to 2018. In 2018 he was appointed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to serve as a District Court Judge.
Sonya L. Harper has been Director of Mecklenburg County's Criminal Justice Services Department since June 2016. She came to the County from The National Association of Drug Court Professionals, where she worked as project director and point of contact for the National Drug Court Resource Center. In that role, she provided instruction and technical assistance on program development and program improvement processes to more than 2,800 drug courts throughout the United States and its territories.
Sonya earned a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a master of public administration degree from Appalachian State University.
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