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Redefining the Pretrial Paradigm

30 Nov 2022

We know more today about pretrial risk than at any other time in the history of bail reform and have the data to support new paradigms for managing individuals on pretrial release. That data show that most individuals on pretrial release are successful, meaning they appear for court as required (or miss court appearances unintentionally), have no new arrests, and receive no new case filings. However, conditions of pretrial release often are tied to an arrest charge or financial considerations and do not address the specific risk factors that individuals present. The pretrial field should consider a new paradigm for pretrial supervision — as well as how best to integrate services, support, and a redefinition of “pretrial risk”. This is all according to a series of three new pretrial publications from the National Institute of Corrections, developed through a cooperative agreement with the Justice Management Institute.

Promoting Pretrial Success: A New Model for Pretrial Supervision introduces a “success-based” pretrial supervision model, where conditions are ordered with the intent to promote an individual’s court appearance and the public’s safety. The publication acknowledges that most individuals on pretrial release require only minimal supervision. These individuals may be better served by receiving conditions consistent with their individual risk factors rather than conditions that are applied regardless of risk level or individual factors.

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Incorporating Services and Support into Pretrial Supervision: Is There a Best Model? suggests that pretrial services agencies provide voluntary support services, intervention and treatment to pretrial-involved individuals who cope with substance abuse disorder. The publication also discusses when agencies might consider interventions, when those interventions should be part of a plan of supervision, and which interventions might be best at the pretrial stage.

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Court Nonappearance and New Case Filings: Redefining Pretrial Misconduct proposes new, more accurate definitions for missed court appearances and new filed criminal charges. The publication examines how we understand risk and offers options for reducing the overestimation of that risk, reducing the likelihood of issuing overly punitive responses to low-risk individuals. The publication concludes with a summary of responses that jurisdictions throughout the country are taking now to correct the problem.

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Together, these publications present a new paradigm for the pretrial field, one that is based on data and the goal of promoting supervision success, ensures public safety, and provides support for individuals on pretrial release.

Each of these publications is available now on the NIC website. For more information about NIC’s resources for the pretrial field, please Click Here or contact Greg Crawford, NIC Correctional Program Specialist, at gcrawford@bop.gov.