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Pretrial Risk Assessment and Case Classification: A Case Study

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 73 Issue: 1 Dated: June 2009 Pages: 12-22
Keith Cooprider
Date Published
June 2009
11 pages
This article reports on the experiences of the Lake County Pretrial Services Program (Illinois) in the development and implementation of an objective, independent measure of risk in determining conditions for the pretrial management of defendants granted pretrial release into the community.
The Lake County Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (LCPRAI) was adapted from the Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument. The Virginia Model is a research-based, statistically validated pretrial-specific risk assessment tool that provides a standardized foundation for making consistent and uniform bond recommendations. The scale does not make a recommendation per se, but rather identifies the degree or level of pretrial failure risk that can than be factored into the bond recommendation decision. The second aim of risk assessment was to establish a case classification system that would prioritize bond supervision in conjunction with the measured level of risk. Training in the appropriate use of the LCPRAI is an essential part of its successful application. Proper scoring, use, and interpretation of the instrument scores are essential for ensuring the instrument's validity and reliability. An assessment of the application of the risk-assessment instrument found that disparity in bond decisions was reduced, and non-cash pretrial release increased. In facilitating the matching of pretrial supervision in the community to a defendant's risk assessment, the cost effectiveness of pretrial supervision increased. Pretrial misconduct and failure to appear for pretrial hearings and trial were reduced and at a lower cost than before the risk-assessment instrument was in place. 5 tables and 3 references