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Look at the Shawnee County Pretrial Release Program

NCJ Number
American Jails Volume: 11 Issue: 6 Dated: (January/February 1998) Pages: 25-27,29-30
K R Lee; B Cole; J P Buchele
Date Published
5 pages
The pretrial release program in Shawnee County (Kans.) established a jail population control committee that evolved into a pretrial release program that is operated by the court and that has benefited the courts, jail management, the accused, and the public.
Jail crowding in the county is a longstanding problem that requires a proactive approach and the use of innovative ideas and options. Before the county established a pretrial release program, judges usually set professional surety bail bonds at the time the case was filed based only on the offense seriousness or on a recommendation of an assistant district attorney. No judicial review occurred regarding whether the accused was a flight risk or posed a danger to the public if released. After the pretrial release program was established, it became obvious that with proper screening, professional bail bonds were usually unnecessary. It was also learned that the economic status of the accused had little to do with appearance rates or crimes while on bond. Another advantage of the pretrial release program is that the court may set conditions of release, including supervision while on bond, geared to assuring court appearances and heading off unlawful behaviors while on bond. Special conditions often include random urinalysis, call-in reporting, and no contact with victims or witnesses. The pretrial release program has resulted in more than a 50- percent increase in the collections of court-ordered financial obligations, amounting to $1 million over the last 3 years. Table and reference notes