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Pretrial Service Programs in North Carolina: A Process and Impact Assessment

NCJ Number
Melinda Tanner; Dillon Wyatt; Douglas L. Yearwood
Date Published
October 2007
22 pages
This report presents findings that assess the impact of North Carolina's pretrial service programs, specifically program processes and the perceived impact that these programs exert on the community, program clientele, jail populations, and judicial processing.
The findings show that pretrial service programs offer a safe alternative for minor and first time nonviolent offenders, as well as members of selected special populations, to remain free in the community pending court appearances. Members of the local detention and judicial systems view the impact of these programs in a positive manner and do believe that they assist in improving the speed at which the courts operate and contribute to lowering detention populations. Constituents surveyed viewed the operations and process of their respective pretrial programs as performing at an above average level. The programs also received strongly favorable ratings for their ability to supervise defendants, who are released into their custody, and for offering adequate services to their clientele. Given the cost savings associated with these programs, their ability to significantly reduce detention populations and avert overcrowding, as well as their effectiveness in ensuring that arrestees comply with all program requirements and attend all relevant court appearances, the following recommendations are offered: (1) increase the number of pretrial programs across the State; (2) increase the use of pretrial service programs; (3) increase the use of research findings on effective practices and evidence-based programs; and (4) increase the use of administrative data to include tracking client recidivism and outcomes upon release or termination from the program. The Governor's Crime Commission conducted a study to assess the impact and effectiveness of North Carolina's pretrial service programs. Pretrial service program directors and members of constituent agencies were surveyed to evaluate the processes associated with program operation and to obtain their opinions regarding the impact and perceived effect of these programs. This report presents the findings of that study. Figures, tables and references