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CJI provides technical assistance to state and local governments interested in adopting promising pretrial reforms with the goals of improving public safety by reducing recidivism and using system resources more effectively.

We bring years of experience in helping agencies examine front-end criminal justice data and promising pretrial practices as well as technical expertise in supporting agencies implementing pretrial practices with fidelity.

We have supported multiple jurisdictions in selecting, developing, implementing and/or validating pretrial risk assessments, one of the most common pretrial strategies.

Our pretrial experts also have worked extensively in counties and states to bring stakeholders together on a regular basis. We work with a diverse array of criminal justice leaders whose decisions have an impact on pretrial justice, including:

  • Sheriff’s Departments
  • District Attorney’s Offices
  • Public Defenders
  • Judges
  • Probation Departments
  • Pretrial Services Agencies
  • Public Health Agencies

The pretrial period, the time between arrest and case disposition, is an important part of the criminal justice system and one that has received more attention in recent years. Studies have shown that defendants not released during the pretrial period are more likely to be convicted and more likely to have a longer sentence than defendants that were released pretrial. Additionally, pretrial detention is often an inefficient use of public resources, especially for lower risk defendants who can be safely released or supervised in the community.

Example of work in CJI’s pretrial portfolio include:

Tennessee Pretrial Justice Technical Assistance

We are working with several counties in Tennessee to select a risk assessment tool, develop processes for risk-based pretrial release decisions and identify major drivers to the local jail population and opportunities to reduce the use of detention without compromising public safety.

Work includes:

  • Convening local stakeholder groups to explore pretrial features and needs;
  • Planning the rollout of the risk assessment tool and data collection systems;
  • Helping to implement policies and procedures for the tool’s administration and use such as a fidelity monitoring process, inter-rater agreement for quality assurance, and coaching;
  • Implementing promising pretrial strategies such as pretrial supervision; and
  • Validating the chosen tool to create a locally validated pretrial risk assessment instrument.

Pretrial Assistance to California Counties

We have recently completed work with two counties in California after providing them with pretrial-focused technical assistance.

Humboldt County had recently resurrected pretrial services as a division of their Probation Department to ease jail crowding and contracted with us because their supervised release program was being underutilized.

Riverside County had recently transferred their pretrial services from the Courts to the Probation Department and was interested in increasing their pretrial release rate by adding a supervision component and becoming a more evidence-based program through the implementation of a pretrial risk assessment.

We have assisted these counties with:

  • Stakeholder engagement and collaboration;
  • Choosing, implementing, and validating a pretrial risk assessment tool ;
  • Enhancing pretrial data collection, analysis and reporting;
  • Assisting with quality assurance processes; and,
  • Providing guidance and expertise in implementing pretrial supervision.

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