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Pretrial diversion

This document highlights the commitment of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to define and support evidence-based practices that improve decision-making at the pretrial stage of our criminal justice system, enhancing the safety of America’s communities and fostering the fair administration of pretrial release and detention. With the release of A Framework for Pretrial Justice: Essential Elements of an Effective Pretrial System and Agency, NIC and its Pretrial Executive Network helps inform the discussion on bail reform and pretrial justice by presenting and defining the fundamentals of an effective pretrial system and the essential elements of a high functioning pretrial services agency. This publication presents and describes these essential elements—as well as the components of an evidence-based framework for improving pretrial outcomes nationwide. 

Bail determination is one of the most important decisions in criminal justice. Courts that make evidence-based decisions set the following as goals: (1) Protecting community safety; (2) Ensuring a defendant’s return to court; (3) Basing release and detention decisions on an individual defendant’s risk and the community’s norms for liberty; [and] (4) Providing judicial officers with clear, legal options for appropriate pretrial release and detention decisions.

A Framework for Pretrial Justice: Essential Elements of an Effective Pretrial System and Agency should serve as a guide for jurisdictions interested in improving their current pretrial systems. By presenting a framework of evidence-based and best practices, NIC supports the equally important concepts of pretrial justice and enhanced public safety in all of America’s courts. 

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This is a great example of standards governing the accreditation of pretrial agencies. These standards are organized into the following chapters: personnel practices; organizational and management; general principles governing the pretrial process; first appearance; release conditions; and electronic monitoring. “Each standard is composed of the standard statement and at least one compliance key. The standard statement is a declarative sentence that places a clear-cut requirement, or multiple requirements on the agency. Many statements require the development and implementation of written directives that articulate the agency’s policies, procedures, rules, and regulations. Other standards require an activity, a report, an inspection, equipment, or other action” (p. 13).

Accreditation Standards for Pretrial Agencies Standards Manual Version 1.0.10 Cover

"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" (p. 3). There were only eight multi-jurisdictional pretrial risk-assessments being used in 2012, all of which depended on defendant interviews. The foundation for an effective non-interview-based risk assessment was the Kentucky Pretrial Risk Assessment (KPRA), an objective instrument comprised of 12 risk factors, some of which were interview-based. The validated assessment was the KPRA-S, a seven risk factor assessment. The KPRA-S was found to accurately determine low-, moderate-, and high-risk defendants. The assessment was also found to predict those individuals prone to fail to appear (FTA) or commit new criminal activity (NCA) as well as the KPRA.

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Objectives: highlight federal resources available to community corrections and criminal justice agencies; define service needs of justice-involved individuals; showcase a local example of collaboration and resources utilization—San Diego County Probation; and engage the criminal justice system in a live discussion about the resources available, how to access funding, receive technical assistance, and to motivate our leaders to want to do more.

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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 individuals under the legal authority in the community to reduce crime and victimization" (p. i). Seven chapters comprise this publication: the five core domains of community corrections—probation, parole, pretrial services, diversion programs, and community treatment; reducing reoffending, recidivism, and victimization in your community—targeting risk, need, and responsivity of the people we supervise; community corrections—changing lives, reducing harm, and helping to build your community; community corrections--a more central role in how the corrections system will manage its resources and overall approach; community corrections has strong public support; helping to solve the nation's public safety and correctional challenges; and what community corrections needs from the field and its partners to meet the public safety and corrections challenges. "Community corrections is changing lives, reducing harm, and helping build communities, and it has strong public support. To succeed in the future, community corrections and its partners need to refocus resources on approaches that are proven to work; change laws, policies, and practices that do not work; target treatment and supervision only to those who need it; and reallocate resources appropriately. Also to succeed in the future, community corrections and its partners need to expand the capacity of the field to take on new challenges and designate resources appropriately" (p. i).

Community Corrections Collaborative Network: Safe and Smart Ways to Solve America's Correctional Challenges Cover

Pretrial program models "have evolved considerably in recent decades, and there is evidence to show that they can be more successful than the money bail system at ensuring public safety and court appearance. There are many evidence-based options available to communities seeking to implement or strengthen pretrial programs … Many counties are now exploring such programs, asking critical questions about whom among those awaiting trial needs to be in jail and who can be managed successfully in the community. This toolkit offers guidance to county officials on how to develop and operate these programs at the local level, building upon available literature on effective pretrial policies and practices" (p. 1). Sections of this toolkit are: introduction; an overview of pretrial; pretrial programs—risk assessment; diversion; supervision; assessing pretrial effectiveness; ongoing measurement and enhancement; and conclusion. An appendix includes the fact sheet "What does California state law say about pretrial release?"

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"This report introduces essential elements for responding to people with mental illnesses at the pretrial stage, including decisions about pretrial release and diversion. These elements encourage data collection not only to help individual communities, but also for future researchers who are dedicated to these important questions."

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"Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a pre-booking diversion pilot program developed with the community to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes … The program allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services, instead of jail and prosecution. By diverting eligible individuals to services, LEAD is committed to improving public safety and public order, and reducing the criminal behavior of people who participate in the program." LEAD reduced recidivism by 22%. Points of entry to this website include: about LEAD; latest news; multimedia; evaluation; and contact information.

LEAD: Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion cover

"[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 conclusions.

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"This publication outlines suggested outcome and performance measures and critical operational data for pretrial diversion programs. Its goals are to present clearly defined and easily calculable measures that pretrial diversion programs can use to gauge progress in achieving their mission and strategic goals, improve business decisions, and illustrate pretrial diversion’s value in an evidence-based criminal justice system. The suggested measures are compatible with established national pretrial diversion standards and appropriate for any program established as a voluntary option to traditional criminal case processing and with a mission to: Reduce the likelihood of future arrests through appropriate interventions based on thorough assessments and intervention plans tailored to an individual participant’s risks and needs; and/or Conserve/redirect criminal justice resources to more serious crimes and those that warrant prosecution by providing a meaningful response to participant conduct. Each measurement description includes a definition, data needed to track the metric, and a sample calculation. Also included are appendices of recommended procedures on setting measurement targets and establishing meaningful quality assurance and quality control" (p. vi). Sections of this publication cover: the Evidence Based Decision Making Framework (EBDM); introduction; data quality; outcome measures—success rate, safety rule, and post-program success rate; performance measures—screening, placement, compliance, response, provision, and satisfaction; and critical operational data—referrals, time to diversion program placement, time in diversion, time in programming, and exits.

Measuring for Results: Outcome and Performance Measures for Pretrial Diversion Field Cover

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