Criminal Justice - Bail & Pretrial Practices


    Pretrial risk assessment is used to determine whether a defendant should be released prior to court appearance, and if so, under what conditions (such as cash bail, electronic monitoring, periodic check-in with the court, urinalysis, restitution, community service, counseling, etc.):
    1. will the defendant show up in court at the appointed time?
      ("Appearance Rate"; FTA = Failure to Appear)
    2. will the defendant commit another crime prior to appearing in court?
      ("Safety Rate", NCA = New Criminal Activity)
    3. For a brief summary of cash bail and pretrial issues in Pennsylvania, see "The Pipeline to Prison: Pretrial Reform" (June 2018).

  • Bail Basics in Pennsylvania - a law office description of how cash bail typically works in Pennsylvania

Problems / Issues with Cash Bail

Cash Bail Reform - Advocacy

Pretrial Reform - Resources and Examples

Consequences of Pretrial Detention

Plea Bargaining

Criminal Justice - Risk Assessment Tools

  • Lehigh County, PA, uses a (proprietary) subjective Risk Assessment (pretrial) and Wisconsin Risk and Needs Assessment tools (for reentry)
  • Northampton County, PA, uses a pretrial risk assessment tool that is similar to New Jersey's.
Specific tools include:
  • Public Safety Assessment (PSA)
  • Wisconsin - Wisconsin Risk/Needs (WRN) & Wisconsin Risk and Needs-Revised (WRN-R)
  • Ohio - Ohio Risk Assessment System, including the
  • Ohio Risk Assessment System-Pretrial Assessment Tool (ORAS-PAT),
  • Ohio Risk Assessment System-Community Supervision Tool (ORAS-CST),
  • Ohio Risk Assessment System-Community Supervision Screening Tool (ORAS- CSST),
  • Ohio Risk Assessment System-Prison Intake Tool (ORAS-PIT), and
  • Ohio Risk Assessment System-Reentry Tool (ORAS-RT)
Tools descriptions and evaluation:
Bail Bond Insurance Industry

Also see other Resources on Criminal Justice Reform.