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.):
Bail Basics in Pennsylvania - a law office description of how cash bail typically works in Pennsylvania
- will the defendant show up in court at the appointed time?
("Appearance Rate"; FTA = Failure to Appear)
- will the defendant commit another crime prior to appearing in court?
For a brief summary of cash bail and pretrial issues in Pennsylvania, see "The Pipeline to Prison: Pretrial Reform" (June 2018).
("Safety Rate", NCA = New Criminal Activity)
Problems / Issues with Cash Bail
- Bail Reform - The John Oliver Experience (youtube: 17:45, June 7, 2015)
John Oliver explains why America's bail system is better for the reality tv industry than it is for the justice system.
- Brave New Films - short videos on Bail
- TED Talk: Robin Steinberg: What if we ended the injustice of bail?
- America's outcasts: the women trapped in a cruel cycle of exploitation
(The Guardian, June 29, 2018)
How women are trapped into prostitution by cash bail bond.
- John Legend and Rashad Robinson: End money bail now (CNN: May 22, 2018)
- The Dangerous Domino Effect of Not Making Bail (The Atlantic, April 12, 2016)
- The Bail Trap (New York Times, August 16, 2015)
- The Kalief Browder Story (available on netflix) Kalief Browder took his own life in 2015 at the age of 22, after being held in jail for nearly three years without trial for a crime he did not commit.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri73Dkttxj8 (movie trailer)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VchmU5NP_U (Democracy Now follow-up)
- Lehigh County Bail guidelines
- Lehigh County Approved Bail Agencies
- Northampton County - Court Costs, Fines and Fees (PDF)
Cash Bail Reform - Advocacy
Pretrial Reform - Resources and Examples
- The National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies (NAPSA) has a number of publications that discuss best practices for pretrial assessment and bail
- Pretrial Justice Institute - resources on ending cash bail and related topics
- What Changed After D.C. Ended Cash Bail (NPR: Sept. 2, 2018)
- When it comes to pretrial release, few other jurisdictions do it D.C.'s way
(Washington Post, July 4, 2016)
Washington, DC, releases about 94% of offenders pretrial without cash bail (but often with other conditions), and with results that are typically just as effective as cash bail for FTA and NCA.
(See "A Framework for Pretrial Justice Reform" (page 44), for comparison with other places that release at least some offenders without cash bail.)
- Philadelphia City Council Resolution to End Cash Bail
- Larry Krasner (Philadelphia District Attorney): prosecutors will no longer seek cash bail for people accused of some misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies (Feb. 21, 2018)
- Larry Krasner memo - which recommends no cash bail for non-violent offenses
(February 15, 2018).
Note, however, that judges don't necessarily follow the no-cash-bail recommendation of prosecutors
- Philadelphia economic impact study: the city could save $75 million a year by ending cash bail and sending thousands of people arrested each year for nonviolent, low-level crimes home to await their court dates. (Oct. 26, 2017)
- California Bail Reform - recent news reports
- New Jersey Bail Reform - recent news reports
- 2017cjrannual.pdf - 2017 Annual Report on New Jersey's Criminal Justice Reform (CJR) that almost eliminates cash bail, including detailed description of how the system works.
- Criminal justice (bail) reform in New Jersey (Dec. 30, 2016)
- Illinois law to change rules for paying cash to get out of jail (June 9, 2017)
- Pretrial Decision-Making: How A Model Pretrial Services Program Changed Allegheny County's Criminal Justice System (PDF: Allegheny County 2014)
- A Framework for Pretrial Justice: Essential Elements of an Effective Pretrial System and Agency (PDF, February 2017)
Other related documents from the National Institute of Corrections
- 5th Judicial District of Pennsylvania: Pretrial Supervision, Measuring What Works (Allegheny County PA - 2017)
- What do Criminal Justice Professionals Think About Risk Assessment at Pretrial?
(Arnold Foundation: 2017)
Other Pretrial Resources from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation
Consequences of Pretrial Detention
Criminal Justice - Risk Assessment Tools
Specific tools include:
- Lehigh County, PA, uses Ohio Risk Assessment System (pretrial) and Wisconsin Risk and Needs Assessment tools (for reentry)
- Northampton County, PA, uses Ohio Risk Assessment tools
Tools descriptions and evaluation:
- 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)
Bail Bond Insurance Industry