Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative

JSP provided strategic support to the Smart Pretrial Justice Initiative, an evidence-based, analysis-driven effort funded by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and managed by the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI). Smart Pretrial encouraged local and tribal jurisdictions to improve the front-end of their criminal justice systems by implementing risk assessments and appropriate supervision and/or diversion strategies that focused on improving pretrial outcomes.

Because improvements to pretrial systems involve local leaders, Smart Pretrial brought together all key stakeholders: chief judges, chief public defenders and/or leadership from the private defense bar, elected prosecutors, jail administrators or county sheriffs, city police chiefs or other lead law enforcement entities, directors of pretrial services, community corrections/chief probation officers, elected county officials or county executives, and others.

The initiative tested how improving pretrial policies and practices could save money and enhance public safety. Specifically, Smart Pretrial evaluated the impact of moving to a pretrial justice system that relies on risk assessment to inform pretrial release decision making, and demonstrated how risk management strategies can improve pretrial outcomes. The goals of the pretrial improvements were to increase the efficiency of the justice system, while also being more fair and just to defendants. Recipients of the Justice Department’s Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative grants – the City and County of Denver, Colorado; Yakima County, Washington; and the State of Delaware – each made tremendous progress toward these goals during the initiative. Click here to learn more about outcomes of the initiative.

JSP’s role on the initiative was multi-pronged. We participated in the Pretrial Justice Working Group (PJWG) as a strategic advisor to PJI and BJA, and also served as the technical assistance team leader at the Yakima County and Denver sites, providing support for the implementation of a pretrial risk assessment process, performing cost-benefit analyses, and conducting assessments of each site’s system culture and readiness for change. In Yakima County, Washington, JSP assisted with the implementation of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) and conducted a post-implementation analysis that showed pretrial release rate rose from 53% to 73% while court appearance and no new arrests rates held steady. Read the full report here.

The initiative was active from 2014 until 2017.

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