U.S. Department of Justice

Pretrial

Pretrial Services programs provide crucial information to judicial officers to assist with the bail decisions and to provide supervision and services to pretrial defendants that will promote public safety and court appearance.

The role of a high functioning pretrial agency can have many positive impacts on local justice systems. By identifying risk factors through validated risk instruments and providing release options and strategies to manage the defendant’s risk pending trial, judicial officers can make informed decisions that balance the Constitutional presumption of innocence while providing protections for the community.


Share Page

Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
2011
Document 025016
Assessing Local Pretrial Justice Functions: A Handbook for Providing Technical Assistance
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
This guide “presents a protocol designed to produce high-quality technical assistance for the front end of the criminal justice system—the pretrial justice stage” (p. iii). Sections contained in this publication are: basic obligations of a technical assistance (TA) provider; preparation for the site visit; conducting the site visit; people who should be interviewed and areas of inquiry; after the site visit; characteristics of effective technical assistance; and logistics of acting as a consult... Read More
PDF
39 pages
2011
Document 025172
Measuring What Matters: Outcome and Performance Measures for the Pretrial Services Field
National Institute of Corrections. Pretrial Executives Network (Washington, DC).
“This monograph presents recommended outcome and performance measures and mission-critical data … [that] will enable pretrial service agencies to gauge more accurately their programs’ effectiveness in meeting agency and justice system goals” (p. v). Sections of this publication include introduction, outcome measures, performance measures, mission-critical data, setting targets, and examples of pretrial release program measures.... Read More
PDF
24 pages
2010
Document 024372
A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Center for Effective Public Policy (Philadelphia, PA); Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC); Justice Management Institute (JMI) (Denver, CO); The Carey Group (Silver Spring, MD).
This report is essential reading for individuals wanting to achieve "measurable reductions of pretrial misconduct and post-conviction reoffending" (p.6). Eight sections follow an introduction (a new paradigm for the justice system): underlying premises; the key decision points, decision makers, and stakeholders in the criminal justice system; examining justice system decision making through the lens of harm reduction; the principles underlying the framework; applying evidence-based principles to... Read More
PDF
68 p.
2010
Document 024753
Kentucky Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument Validation
By Austin, James; Ocker, Roger; Bhati, Avi. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (Washington, DC). JFA Institute (Washington, DC).
The validity of the Kentucky Pretrial Service Agency (KPSA) risk assessment instrument is determined. Other pretrial agencies can compare their risk assessment instruments to this evaluation to see where they stand. Sections of this report are: introduction; research methods; use of special conditions; and improvement of the current tool. Based on conflicts in the prior instrument, a modified tool resulted from this study.... Read More
_blank
16 pages
2013
Document 027173
Guidance for Setting Release Conditions
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (Denver, CO).
The chart available at this website provides “information on statutory guidance for setting pretrial release conditions” by state. Data presented includes the state, regulating statute, presumption of personal recognizance or unsecured appearance bond, least restrictive conditions required, and whether a risk assessment is required.... Read More
_blank
2 pages
2013
Document 027172
Pretrial Release Eligibility
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (Denver, CO).
“State constitutions and statutes specify which defendants may be detained before trial … However, denial of release is not absolute. A court must make certain determinations before ordering detention … While state laws broadly provide for presumption of release, they also define who is and is not eligible for pretrial release, and under what conditions.” A chart showing pretrial release eligibility by state is available at this website. The chart shows the state and its governing statute, presu... Read More
_blank
3 pages
2007
Document 023359
Legal and Evidence Based Practices: Application of Legal Principles, Laws, and Research to the Field of Pretrial Services
By VanNostrand, Marie. National Institute of Corrections. Community Corrections Division (Washington, DC). Luminosity, Inc. (St. Petersburg, FL); Crime and Justice Institute (Boston, MA); National Institute of Corrections. Community Corrections Division (Washington, DC).
"[C]ritical legal principles applicable to defendants during the pretrial stage" are covered (p.3). Sections of this paper are: introduction and background; pretrial legal foundation -- presumption of innocence, right to counsel, right against self-incrimination, right to due process of law, right to equal protection under the law, right to bail that is not excessive, and summary of legal principles; evidence-based practices in pretrial services and community corrections; and summary and conclu... Read More
PDF
33 p.
2011
Document 025297
Commonwealth of Virginia: Roadmap for Evidence-Based Practices in Community Corrections
By Pierce-Danford, Kristy; Guevara, Meghan. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (Washington, DC). Community Resources for Justice. Crime and Justice Institute (Boston, MA).
“The Roadmap is a guide for the sustainable implementation and replication of evidence-based practices in pretrial and local probation agencies across the state ... [it] offers valuable insights into lessons learned during implementation and provides proven strategies for addressing challenges to sustainable change” (p. 1). Chapters following an introduction explaining how to use the Roadmap are: Virginia’s application of the Integrated Model; assessing the organization; strategic planning and w... Read More
_blank
141 pages
2012
Document 026819
2012 Pretrial Release Legislation Overview
National Conferences of State Legislatures (NCSL) (Denver, CO).
“This overview identifies and describes significant actions and trends within this collection of [pretrial] legislation” (p. 1). Sections of this report cover: pretrial release eligibility--crime specific restrictions, risk assessments for pretrial release, and offenses committed during release; pretrial release options—non-monetary bail (release on recognizance (ROR), electronic monitoring, and pretrial services programs), and monetary bail; commercial bond regulation—commercial bond business p... Read More
WEB
4 pages
2013
Document 028480
Assessing Pretrial Risk without a Defendant Interview
By VanNostrand, Marie; Lowenkamp, Christopher T.. Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) (Houston, TX).
"Although the use of pretrial risk assessments has increased in recent years, the proportion of jurisdictions employing these instruments remains low, and is estimated to be no more than 10%. This low adoption rate is due in large part to the fact that existing risk assessments require that information be collected through interviews with defendants. Conducting these interviews and verifying the information is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process that many jurisdictions cannot afford"... Read More

21 pages
2013
Document 027572
Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT): Administration, Scoring, and Reporting Manual, Version 1
By Taylor, Bryan. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) Washington, DC).
The Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT) “is an empirically derived multi-jurisdiction pretrial risk assessment instrument for use in Colorado. It is designed to improve the various pretrial assessment processes that exist in local Colorado jurisdictions … The purpose of a pretrial risk assessment protocol that includes the CPAT is to enable Colorado pretrial services agencies’ recommendations for bond conditions, the court’s ordering of bond conditions, and/or the agency’s pretrial supervis... Read More
PDF
13 pages
2013
Document 027064
Pretrial Detention and Misconduct in Federal District Courts, 1995-2010
By Cohen, Thomas H.. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC).
This report “[p]resents findings on general trends in pretrial detention and misconduct in the federal district courts between fiscal years 1995 and 2010. The report highlights trends in the number of defendants released and detained pretrial and examines the changing composition of defendants with federal pretrial dispositions, including the increase in defendants charged with immigration violations and the growth of defendants with serious criminal backgrounds. It examines the relationships be... Read More
_blank
13 pages
2011
Document 025705
Promising Practices in Providing Pretrial Services Functions Within Probation Agencies: A Users Guide
U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (Washington, DC). American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) (Lexington, KY); Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC).
Guidance is provided for jurisdictions looking to incorporate a pretrial services function within a probation department. This combination will serve to “retain or implement evidence-based practices in a way that provides the most efficient use of criminal justice resources without sacrificing public safety” (p. 7). Sections of this publication are: introduction; advantages of providing pretrial services functions in a probation department—taking advantage of existing infrastructure and relatio... Read More
PDF
36 pages
2013
Document 027502
The Delivery of Pretrial Justice in Rural Areas: A Guide for Rural County Officials
By Vetter, Stephanie J.; Clark, John. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC); National Association of Counties (NaCo) (Washington, DC).
“This is a guide for elected officials seeking to enhance existing or develop new pretrial justice practices in rural areas. By identifying the characteristics, strengths and challenges in rural jurisdictions and combining these factors with the lessons and experiences of urban, suburban and rural pretrial justice programs, national standards and best practices, this guide offers a set of recommendations to enhance local policies and practices within the context of rural settings” (p. 3). Sectio... Read More
PDF
23 pages
2013
Document 027893
Unsecured Bonds: The Most Effective and Efficient Pretrial Release Option
By Jones, Michael R.. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC).
If your pretrial agency is looking for solid empirical evidence about the effectiveness of unsecure bonds compared to secure bonds in safeguarding public safety, you need to read this report. “Findings support judicial officers changing their practices to use more unsecured releases, to include unsecured bonds if currently permitted by law, to achieve the same public safety and court appear¬ance rates while using far fewer jail beds. These un¬secured bonds could be used in conjunction with an in... Read More
PDF
26 pages

Related Resources

Date Title Type
2014
Document 028317
Community Corrections Collaborative Network: Safe and Smart Ways to Solve America's Correctional Challenges
By Ziedenberg, Jason. National Institute of Corrections (NIC). Community Services Division (Washington, DC); NIC-TA#13C5022. National Institute of Corrections (NIC). Community Corrections Collaborative Network (CCCN) (Washington, DC).
The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Community Corrections Collaborative Network (CCCN)—a network representing community corrections professionals—commissioned a position paper to explore the successes and challenges facing the community corrections field. The position paper, "Community Corrections Collaborative Network: Safe and Smart Ways To Solve America’s Correctional Challenges", finds that community corrections is a critical part of the public safety system that supervises individua... Read More
PDF
36 pages
2014
Document 028429
A Brief Overview of Pretrial Release Laws
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (Denver, CO).
"State legislatures consider and enact laws that address all aspects of pretrial policy, including release eligibility, conditions of release, bail, commercial bail bonding and pretrial diversion. These legislative policies have an important role in providing fair, efficient and safe pretrial practices carried out by law enforcement and the courts" (p. 1). Brief descriptions are provided for the following legislative: citation in lieu of arrest; pretrial release eligibility; guidance for setting... Read More

2 pages
2014
Document 028362
Pretrial Justice: The Colorado Story
Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC).
"Over the last few years, Colorado has been working on statewide pretrial justice reform and seen incredible advancements in legislation, policy, and practice. This video chronicles their journey so far in working to establish safe, fair, and effective pretrial justice in the state."... Read More

21 minutes
2014
Document 028258
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Pretrial System: A "Front Door" to Health and Safety
Public Welfare Foundation (Washington, DC). National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) (Washington, DC).
"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides an historic opportunity for millions of low-income individuals to obtain insurance coverage for their physical and behavioral health care needs. For the last several years, diverse behavioral health advocates, health care providers and community-based prevention organizations, have worked to understand the implications of the ACA on the justice-involved population. Much of the conversation has been centered on the disproportionately ... Read More
PDF
15 pages
2014
Document 028316
Pretrial Justice Institute
U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC); Public Welfare Foundation (Washington, DC); Annie E. Casey Foundation (Baltimore, MD). Pretrial Justice Institue (PJI) (Washington, DC).
'"The Pretrial Justice Institute’s core purpose is to advance safe, fair, and effective juvenile and adult pretrial justice practices and policies … [JPI] created this practice-based, informational resource for practitioners, policymakers, advocates and others interested in improving pretrial justice … [Materials are featured] that have been generated from jurisdictions across the country in the course of their bail reform endeavors to reduce inappropriate detention, optimize diversion from pros... Read More
WEB
2013
Document 028480
Assessing Pretrial Risk without a Defendant Interview
By VanNostrand, Marie; Lowenkamp, Christopher T.. Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) (Houston, TX).
"Although the use of pretrial risk assessments has increased in recent years, the proportion of jurisdictions employing these instruments remains low, and is estimated to be no more than 10%. This low adoption rate is due in large part to the fact that existing risk assessments require that information be collected through interviews with defendants. Conducting these interviews and verifying the information is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process that many jurisdictions cannot afford"... Read More

21 pages
2013
Document 028426
Best Practices in Bond Setting: Colorado’s New Pretrial Bail Law
By Schnacke, Timothy R.. Center for Legal and Evidence-Based Practices (CLEBP) (Golden, CO).
Colorado's new pretrial bail law, H.B. 13-1236, "represents an important step forward in Colorado pretrial justice as well as significant movement toward creating a model bail statute; the process used to create it, and even the compromises contained therein, may also serve as a template for other states struggling to address global issues in bail reform. This article summarizes the new law, factors and events leading to its creation, and the research behind the CCJJ’s recommendations underlying... Read More

63 pages
2013
Document 027581
Ohio Risk Assessment System: ORAS News and Updates
Ohio Ex-Offender Reentry Coalition (Columbus, Ohio).
Access is provided to resources about the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS). Materials available include: training updates; ORAS Newsletters; and ORAS tools—Community Supervision Tool, ORAS Full Binder (all the tools in one pdf), Pretrial Tool, Prison Tool, Reentry Tool, Research data, and Veterans Questionnaire.... Read More
_blank
2013
Document 027893
Unsecured Bonds: The Most Effective and Efficient Pretrial Release Option
By Jones, Michael R.. U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) (Washington, DC). Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) (Washington, DC).
If your pretrial agency is looking for solid empirical evidence about the effectiveness of unsecure bonds compared to secure bonds in safeguarding public safety, you need to read this report. “Findings support judicial officers changing their practices to use more unsecured releases, to include unsecured bonds if currently permitted by law, to achieve the same public safety and court appear¬ance rates while using far fewer jail beds. These un¬secured bonds could be used in conjunction with an in... Read More
PDF
26 pages
2013
Document 027567
Evidence-Based Pretrial Release: Final Paper
By Pepin, Arthur W.. Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) (Williamsburg, VA ).
Anyone looking to reduce the amount of beds they need for pretrial detention should read this publication. It explains why evidence-based assessment of offenders can help reduce the need for current levels of or increased need for pretrial detention capacity. “Evidence-based assessment of the risk a defendant will fail to appear or will endanger others if released can increase successful pretrial release without financial conditions that may defendants are unable to meet. Imposing conditions on ... Read More
PDF
16 pages
2013
Document 027173
Guidance for Setting Release Conditions
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (Denver, CO).
The chart available at this website provides “information on statutory guidance for setting pretrial release conditions” by state. Data presented includes the state, regulating statute, presumption of personal recognizance or unsecured appearance bond, least restrictive conditions required, and whether a risk assessment is required.... Read More
_blank
2 pages
2013
Document 027173
Guidance for Setting Release Conditions
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (Denver, CO).
The chart available at this website provides “information on statutory guidance for setting pretrial release conditions” by state. Data presented includes the state, regulating statute, presumption of personal recognizance or unsecured appearance bond, least restrictive conditions required, and whether a risk assessment is required.... Read More
_blank
2 pages

Browse Library Topics

Available Training Opportunities

[+] feedback