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Measuring What Matters: Outcome and Performance Measures for the Pretrial Services Field

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2011
32 pages
This monograph presents recommended outcome and performance measures, as well as mission-critical data for pretrial service programs.
There are five suggested outcome measures and definitions: appearance rate (percentage of supervised defendants who make all scheduled court appearances); safety rate (percent of supervised defendants who are not charged with a new offense during the pretrial stage); concurrence rate (the ratio of defendants whose supervision level or detention status corresponds with their assessed risk of pretrial misconduct); success rate (the percentage of released defendants who are not revoked, appear for all scheduled court appearances, and are not charged with a new offense during pretrial supervision); and pretrial detainee length of stay. The four suggested performance measures are universal screening, recommendation rate, response to defendant conduct, and pretrial intervention rate. Suggested mission-critical data are the number of defendants released by release type and condition, caseload ratio, time from nonfinancial release order to start of pretrial supervision, time on pretrial supervision, and pretrial detention rate. The monograph also discusses the importance of "setting targets." A performance target is a numeric goal for an outcome or performance measure. Well-defined, ambitious, and attainable performance targets can help organizations deliver expected services and outcomes while identifying needed programmatic and system strategic changes. Conversely, static or unreasonable targets can encourage lower expectations, thereby minimizing the program's influence as a system partner, or burden organizations with objectives that are inconsistent with its mission and resources. The monograph recommends adopting the SMART method for setting effective targets. SMART is an acronym for "specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound" targets. 9 notes and appended examples of pretrial release program measures