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Federal study validates risk-assessment tool used by Kentucky courts for pretrial release

As Kentucky reforms its corrections system in favor of evidence-based practices, a federal study shows that the court system’s method for helping judges determine whether to grant pretrial release is a proven success. The study by the JFA Institute in Washington found that Kentucky has a high pretrial release rate of 74 percent, with low rates of rearrest and failure to appear in court among individuals who were granted pretrial release. The state’s rates are among the best reported by any criminal justice program in the nation, according to the non-profit Pretrial Justice Institute.

Press Release from the
American Probation and Parole Association
June 15, 2010
Association Contact: Diane Kincaid, Deputy Director
Phone: (859) 244-8196

APPA Supports Pretrial Supervision Services

On June 7, 2010, the American Probation and Parole Association published a new Resolution supporting pretrial supervision services. As the Resolution states, “pretrial supervision services exist to evaluate the jail population to ensure those who should be in custody remain in custody and those who do not pose a significant risk to the community can be released, allowing for better utilization of our justice resources.”

Comments from Mr. Timothy Murray, Executive Director of the Pretrial Justice Institute, underline the importance of careful decision making regarding pretrial release of those accused of crimes, “Most jurisdictions use pre-set fees arranged by the type of charge to determine whether a suspect should or should not be released back into the community. Accused felons, therefore, are often released on bail with little or no attention paid to their criminal histories, their danger to society or whether they are likely to become fugitives.”

A 2008 report from the state of Colorado, Topics in Community Corrections, points out, “...defendants who could be supervised effectively in the community often remain in jail unnecessarily because they are unable to post bond. At the same time, higher-risk defendants who can post a monetary bond are often returned to the community unsupervised.”[1]

Barbara Broderick, APPA President and Chief of the Maricopa County (Phoenix, AZ) Adult Probation Department says, "As Chief of a large probation agency that includes pretrial supervision services, I know for a fact that the pretrial officers we employ are professionals with superior training and skills that allow them to not only secure public safety by supervising those accused of crime prior to their trials, but to also assist those in need of services such as mental health or substance abuse treatment. The bail bond industry is simply unable to provide such service to the community".

Executive Director of APPA, Mr. Carl Wicklund, adds, “Pretrial services are an essential cog in the fair administration of justice by helping ensure responsible population management of jails, appropriate release and supervision of defendants awaiting trial without regard for financial means, and the provision of valuable information to the justice system process”.

Please see below for the full Resolution text. APPA’s resolution in support of pretrial supervision services can also be found on the Association’s website.

WHEREAS, pretrial supervision services exist to evaluate the jail population to ensure those who should be in custody remain in custody and those who do not pose a significant risk to the community can be released, allowing for better utilization of our justice resources;

WHEREAS, a vast majority of pretrial supervision activities are carried out as subdivisions of state or local probation agencies, while depending on jurisdiction, others are standalone agencies;

WHEREAS, the bond industry serves as the de facto decision maker of who is released from jail and these decisions are based on monetary considerations whereby pretrial supervision agencies’ decisions are based on likelihood of court appearance and community safety considerations.

WHEREAS, the majority of our jails are filled with those awaiting trial with a large percentage of these crimes being misdemeanors and low-level nonviolent felonies while the cost for housing these individuals is borne by taxpayers;

WHEREAS, pretrial supervision has been proven a safe and cost effective alternative to jail for many individuals awaiting trial;
WHEREAS, pretrial supervision divisions in the United States employ professionally trained officers who use tools to assess the risk of offenders prior to release from jail and make recommendations for release to the appropriate court or office;

WHEREAS, pretrial supervision officers conduct assessments to determine the need for treatment (i.e., substance abuse, mental health) and help offenders access these services more quickly thereby reducing costs associated with jail incarceration and potential future crimes;

WHEREAS, pretrial supervision officers compile reports on those they supervise noting compliance with conditions that can be useful to the court if individuals convicted are then released on probation;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of the American Probation and Parole Association supports the role of pretrial supervision services to enhance both short-term and long-term public safety, provide access to treatment services and reduce court caseloads, and submit that such a role cannot be fulfilled as successfully by the bail bond industry.