Friday, November 15, 2013

Kentucky Highlighted for Using National Model for Pretrial Risk Assessment

A National Model for Pretrial Risk Assessment - Pretrial Justice Initiative

With the goal of creating a safer, fairer, and less costly pretrial justice system, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) yesterday announced the development of a national pretrial risk assessment tool. In the research brief, Developing a National Model for Pretrial Risk Assessment, LJAF laid out the need for the new tool, described how it was developed, and expressed their desire for it to  be used in jurisdictions across the country.

“This research represents an historic step forward in the advancement of safe, fair and effective justice across the land,” PJI’s executive director Tim Murray said. “For the first time jurisdictions will be able to make informed pretrial decisions while enhancing public safety and reducing needless pretrial incarceration.”

In their report, LJAF highlighted the flaws in the current system: 12 million people are booked into local jails each year, and jails filled with more than 60% of pretrial defendants, costing the country over $9 billion annually. Data collected over the past two years by LJAF show that too often high risk and/or violent defendants are released, while low-risk, non-violent defendants are detained. Most shocking is the finding that pretrial detention of low-risk defendants increases the likelihood of future crime.

LJAF’s data-driven, user-friendly risk assessment tool — the Public Safety Assessment-Court (PSA-Court) — provides a risk score for three categories: new criminal activity, new violent crime, and failure to appear in court. The foundation anticipates that the new tool will help judges “easily, cheaply, and reliably quantify defendant risk.”

The tool is already in use in 120 counties in Kentucky with plans to roll out in additional pilot sites in the near future. LJAF has the ambitious goal of having every judge in America using a “data-driven, objective risk assessment within the next five years.“

Click here to view the full report or here to see the LJAF press release.