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Case Study on the Practice of Pretrial Services and Risk Assessment in Three Cities

NCJ Number
KiDeuk Kim; Megan Denver
Date Published
December 2011
26 pages
This report discusses the practice of pretrial services and programs, focusing on risk assessment.
This study examines the practices and operations of three pretrial service programs along with their use of risk assessments. This report is divided into four sections which include: 1) the Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) for the District of Columbia (DC); 2) the context of pretrial services; 3) current practice in pretrial services in the DC, New York City (NYC), and Baltimore; and 4) comparing the jurisdictions summarized. Results indicate that risk assessment practices cannot be separated from other related aspects of the pretrial system, including the stated goals of pretrial detention, the available alternatives to detention, and the larger mandate of the pretrial services agency. While the pretrial agencies in DC, NYC, and Baltimore differ in many ways, three key features that differentiate D.C. from the two other jurisdictions are identified. First, PSA offers the most comprehensive supervision services to pretrial defendants. Second, PSA emphasizes public safety in all of its operations, from risk assessment to treatment and supervision. Third, DC does not rely on monetary bail, but instead utilizes pretrial services or detention to manage the risk of flight or risk to public safety. These features condition the use of pretrial risk assessment in the District. Tables and references