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NIC Presents Essentials of Pretrial Systems and Agencies at ACA Winter 2024

During the American Correctional Association Winter 2024 Conference in National Harbor, MD, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) hosted an in-depth workshop titled The Essential Elements of an Effective Pretrial System and Agency: A Framework for Pretrial Justice. The presentation began with a definition for bail and then highlighted laws, standards, evidence-based practices, and organizational theory as the four essential elements of effective pretrial. Throughout the presentation, discussion focused on how to use pretrial effectively to promote court appearance and public safety by using the least restrictive approaches to applying conditions, interventions, and treatment. 

Systems throughout the country are beginning to make improvements to local pretrial based on available data and resources from organizations like NIC. However, the field remains new. The presenters shared that:

  1. The body of knowledge about evidence-based and best pretrial supervision practices is still developing.
  2. Levels of supervision appear to influence outcomes, but individual conditions appear not to influence outcomes.
  3. Outcome assessment and outcome and performance measurement data suggest that low to moderate supervision levels are appropriate for most defendants.

How pretrial systems and agencies define success is crucial. The presentation ended with examples of outcome and performance measures that pretrial agencies have begun to adopt as markers of more effective pretrial practice. Among them were suggestions for measuring rates of success, safety, release, and appearance in more meaningful ways.

a speaker talking at a conference