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Legal and Evidence Based Practices: Application of Legal Principles, Laws, and Research to the Field of Pretrial Services

NCJ Number
Marie VanNostrand Ph.D.
Date Published
April 2007
40 pages
This paper discusses legal and evidence-based practices for pretrial interventions that are consistent with applicable laws and methods that research has shown to be effective in decreasing failures to appear in court and danger to the community from defendants during the pretrial stage of their processing.
The six legal principles that govern pretrial actions are the presumption of innocence, the right to counsel, the right against self-incrimination, the right to due process of law, the right to equal protection under the law, and the right to bail that is not excessive. These rights, as well as other legal protections provided to pretrial defendants, must be honored in all pretrial proceedings and related program operations. Evidence-based pretrial procedures should not only comply with these legal requirements but also with practices that have proven effective in reducing pretrial recidivism and failure to appear at required legal proceedings. Such evidence-based practices pertain to risk assessment instruments administered to persons being processed in the criminal justice system, bail recommendations, and practices and interventions that have proven effective in reducing pretrial recidivism and failure to appear for proceedings. The use of evidence-based practices in pretrial proceedings improves the ability of the criminal justice system to protect the legal rights of those being processed and presumed innocent by the criminal justice system, while ensuring that the public is protected from high-risk, dangerous offenders who have yet to be convicted of a charged crime. 65 notes