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The Hard (Research) Truth About Pretrial Services

JSP Staff

Following an arrest and booking into jail, the court must make a release decision about an individual, including: release the individual with no conditions, release the individual with conditions, or keep the person detained while the court is working on their case. If the court decides to release a person from detention with conditions then they are typically assigned to monitoring by pretrial services. While monitored by pretrial services, a pretrial staff member periodically contacts the person while they are in the community to support their compliance with court-ordered conditions of release. Courts rely on supervised pretrial to reduce jail occupancy, ensure court appearance, and lower incidents of rearrest during the pretrial period.

The structure of monitoring by pretrial services can vary substantially, but typically involves some form of recurring contact between pretrial services staff and a person in the community. This resource provides a summary of the research evaluating the effectiveness of monitoring by pretrial services to improve court appearance and provides practical considerations for improving equity.