Back to top

Pretrial release

In line with directives from the White House, state authorities, and local officials, criminal justice agencies around the country have modified operations to comply with social distancing, travel restrictions, and mandatory health orders due to COVID-19. These policies have a significant impact on the judiciary, causing courthouse closures, the suspension of jury trials, and the halting or modification of court orders. It has required criminal justice decision makers to swiftly examine their pretrial populations and practices to comply with these modified operations.

In this webinar you will hear from decision makers who were responsible for upholding these recommendations. They will share their challenges and experiences in implementing these directives, as well as the opportunities they found for adopting long- term practice changes that focus on maximizing public safety, court appearances, and release of pretrial defendants.

Webinar Objectives:

  • Discuss the collaborative efforts among pretrial services, the courts, district attorney’s offices, and jails to manage the pretrial population during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Identify innovative approaches to support defendant court appearance and connection with pretrial service officers.
  • Highlight early challenges and opportunities.
  • Show how technology is playing a key role in the new normal.
  • Provide key resources to the field.

Moderators/Speakers:
Greg Crawford, Correctional Program Specialist, National Institute of Corrections
Lori Eville, Correctional Program Specialist, National Institute of Corrections
Spurgeon Kennedy, Vice-President, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies

Panel Members:
The Honorable Karen Thomas, Judge, 17th Judicial District of Kentucky
Tara Boh Blair, Executive Officer, Kentucky Court of Justice, Department of Pretrial Services
Kevin Burns, Captain, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico
Krista Lawrence, Division Director, 11th Judicial District and Magistrate Courts, New Mexico
Jon Tunheim, Prosecuting Attorney, Thurston County District Court, Washington
Marianne Clear, Director, Thurston County Pretrial Services, Washington

This webinar aired on September 3rd, 2020.

 

image for webinar
COVID-19: How are Pretrial Service Agencies Dealing with the Coronavirus? [Webinar]

"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 release conditions; pretrial release conditions; pretrial detention; bail bond agent licensure; bail bond agent business practices; bail forfeiture procedures; recovery agents (aka bounty hunters); victims' rights and protections; and pretrial diversion.

A Brief Overview of Pretrial Release Laws Cover

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 practice; key challenges to implementing this framework; collaboration—a key ingredient of an evidence-based system; and building evidence-based agencies.

A Framework for Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems cover

"This article presents a possible framework for developing research geared toward identifying evidence-based practices in pretrial services" (p. 4). Sections of this article are: limited pretrial research exists to support evidence-based practices; start with goals; use of the Pretrial Release Standards of the American Bar Association as objectives; tasks or objectives along with related issues that should be researched; and interpreting research findings to assimilate outcomes into practices.

A Framework for Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Pretrial Services Cover

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. 

A Framework for Pretrial Justice: Essential Elements of an Effective Pretrial System and Agency cover

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

This study's aim is to "shed more light on what the impact of pretrial detention may be on several non-Criminal Justice related outcomes. If we can gain a better understanding of the effects of pretrial detention, even detention for relatively short periods (e.g., less than three days), policy regarding risk-based decisions can be informed. Likewise there is benefit in further examining the “more than” vs. “less than” three days of pretrial incarceration in light of recent research that has already influenced policy in many parts of the U.S." (p. 3). It seems that pretrial detention "leads to varying levels of disruption across several indicators of functionality – specifically employment, financial situation, residential stability, and issues relating to dependent children" (p. 12).

Analyzing Bond Supervision Survey Data Cover

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 consulting technical assistance provider.

Assessing Local Pretrial Justice Functions: A Handbook for Providing Technical Assistance 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.

Assessing Pretrial Risk without a Defendant Interview Cover

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.

CCCN LIVE National Forum Discussion Cover

Pages

Subscribe to Pretrial release