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Glossary
Pretrial Risk Assessment

The method by which a pretrial services program/agency or individual identifies and categorizes risks of pretrial misconduct presented by a particular defendant based upon the information gathered before the bail hearing. The risk assessment can be either subjective or objective. Subjective assessments are based on an evaluation of the defendant by the interviewer, who draws on his or her prior experience to assess release appropriateness. Objective assessments are based on procedures and conclusions supported by research and national organizations, such as the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies and the American Bar Association, through their published standards


Blog Entry
(Evidence-based, Actuarial Pretrial) Risk Assessment

At PJI, risk assessment is almost always accompanied by a handful of other words: pretrial, evidence-based, and actuarial. Here’s why: Pretrial —The criminal justice system uses risk assessment at different times for a variety of purposes—including decisions about sentencing, incarceration security levels, and conditions for post-adjudication supervision

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The Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT)

The Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT) is a multi-jurisdictional pretrial risk assessment instrument empirically validated for use in Colorado. It provides judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and pretrial services agency staff with empirically derived information to assess the degree of risk a defendant poses to public safety and non-appearance in court. Twelve factors related to pretrial misconduct are identified, and a risk classification scheme is provided

4 attachments

Focus Search - The Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT) FAQ - PJI 2012.pdf


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Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument - Federal 2010

The federal pretrial risk assessment (PTRA) instrument includes the risk assessment instrument and its scoring criteria

2 attachments

Focus Search - Federal Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument User's Manual and Scoring Guide - OPPS 2010.pdf


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Pretrial Risk Assessment in Virginia - Luminosity 2009

The publication describes pretrial risk assessment in Virginia, where all pretrial services agencies use the Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (VPRAI)

Pretrial Risk Assessment in Virginia - Luminosity 2009.pdf


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Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument FAQ - Federal 2010

The frequently asked questions (FAQ) document accompanying the federal pretrial risk assessment (PTRA) instrument includes the history of its development, its validity, the benefits of its use, and training on the instrument

Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument FAQ - Federal 2010.pdf



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Kentucky Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument Validation - JFA 2010

The goal of this study was to determine the validity of the current Kentucky Pretrial Services Agency risk assessment instrument. The study conducted interviews throughout the states various pretrial agencies, and tables of data are provided at the end of the report based on the results of the interview

Kentucky Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument Validation - JFA 2010.pdf


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Florida Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument - JFA Institute 2012

This report presents the results from the Florida multi county risk assessment study, which was requested by the Association of Pretrial Professionals of Florida and the Florida Association of Counties due to the trend toward the use of statewide pretrial risk assessment instruments, as opposed to individual county assessments. The study validates the use of the risk assessment instrument across the 6 counties that participated and the results allow defendants to be sorted based on the probabilities of success on pretrial release, i.e. appearance in court and risks they pose to the community. Sample population information and data is provided, as well as a sample risk assessment tool

Florida Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (JFA Institute 2012).pdf


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Updated Position on Pretrial Risk Assessment Tools - PJI 2020

On February 7, 2020, the Pretrial Justice Institute released its Updated Position on Pretrial Risk Assessment Tools. In short, PJI states, "We now see that pretrial risk assessment tools, designed to predict an individual’s appearance in court without a new arrest, can no longer be a part of our solution for building equitable pretrial justice systems." This document shares PJI's evolution on this subject and how its racial equity journey contributed to a new position on pretrial risk assessment tools

Risk-Statement-PJI-2020.pdf



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Santa Clara Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument Report - PJI 2012

This report describes the empirically-derived pretrial risk assessment instrument for use in Santa Clara County, California

Santa Clara Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument Report - PJI 2012.pdf


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Risk Assessment Evidence-based pretrial decision-making - PJI 2013

This document gives a brief overview of risk assessment instruments, including a description of what they are, how they are developed, and how they should be used

Risk Assessment Evidence-based pretrial decision-making - PJI 2013.pdf


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State of the Science Pretrial Risk Assessment - PJI 2011

This document is a summary of the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) and the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) meeting regarding the pretrial justice process and what strategies should be implemented in order to be fair and humane to defendants while considering public safety. The document is split into five sections covering the history of pretrial justice, critical issues, process challenges, methodological challenges, and recommendations. The Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) is centering racial justice as the foundation of our vision, mission and work to advance pretrial justice in order to end mass incarceration

State of the Science Pretrial Risk Assessment - PJI 2011.pdf


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Florida Multi-County Pretrial Risk Assessment Study Summary- 2012

This report summarizes the Florida Multi County Pretrial Risk Assessment Study, which presents results that validates the use of one risk assessment tool across the state. The results of the study allow defendants to be sorted based on the probabilities of success on pretrial release, and this summary includes graphical data from the sample population as well as a sample risk assessment tool

Florida Multi-County Pretrial Risk Assessment Study Summary- 2012.pdf


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Pretrial Risk Assessment in the Federal Court - Luminosity 2009

Courts to identify statistically significant and policy relevant predictors of pretrial outcome and to identify federal criminal defendants who are most suited for pretrial release into an alternatives to detention program. The study looked at all persons charged with criminal offenses in the federal courts between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2007 and who were processed by the federal pretrial services system (N=565,178). Participation in the alternatives to detention program improved pretrial outcomes for higher risk individuals, but if participation was required of lower risk defendants, pretrial outcomes worsened

Pretrial Risk Assessment in the Federal Court - Luminosity 2009.pdf


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Alaska's Pretrial Transformation - CJI 2018

Alaska’s new pretrial system limits the use of monetary bail and promotes greater consideration of a defendant’s risk of pretrial failure in release decisions. A pretrial risk assessment provides judges with objective information about the likelihood that a defendant will commit a new crime or fail to appear if released to the community pending trial, and Alaska’s statute provides guidelines for judges on how to use risk assessment information when setting monetary bail and determining pretrial supervision

Alaska's Pretrial Transformation - CJI 2018.pdf


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Assessing Pretrial Risk without a Defendant Interview - LJAF 2013

This document examines whether or not a defendant needs to be present for an interview in order for a pretrial risk assessment to be completed. It studies data from Kentucky’s Pretrial Risk Assessment (KPRA), a 12 point risk assessment, and includes three objectives: to develop a pretrial risk assessment that does not require an interview, determine if it is indicative of FTA and NCA, and validate these findings on a secondary dataset

Assessing Pretrial Risk without a Defendant Interview - LJAF 2013.pdf


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Joint Defender Statement on Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments - updated 2019

This 2019 statement by the American Council of Chief Defenders, Gideon’s Promise, the National Association for Public Defense, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association updates its 2017 statement and supports the use of validated pretrial risk assessments with several checks and balances, including data collection, due process protections and input from impacted communities. The statement notes, "There are also concerns that the use of pretrial risk assessment instruments as an alternative to or in conjunction with the use of money bail fails to address existing racial and ethnic bias in the criminal justice system, and those concerns should be used to guide protocols for implementation, data collection and analysis; to identify points in the system which may require amelioration; and to act as the basis for ongoing monitoring by advocates and community groups external to the system."

JOINT STATEMENT - PRETRIAL RISK ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENTS final March 2019.pdf


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Developing a National Model for Pretrial Risk Assessment - LJAF 2013

This report discusses the challenge faced in developing a risk assessment tool that would analyze this as well as be applicable to every defendant, usable by every jurisdiction, and to be highly predictive

Developing a National Model for Pretrial Risk Assessment - LJAF 2013.pdf