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Cleveland Municipal Court Implements Data-Driven Pretrial Risk Assessment

Sep 25, 2017
(Cleveland, Ohio) – The Cleveland Municipal Court has begun implementation of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), a data-driven risk assessment tool that provides objective information for judges to consider when deciding whether to release or detain a defendant prior to trial.
Contact:  Ed Ferenc, Public Information Officer                                  
Cleveland Municipal Court
216 664 6787 / 216 789 2597
ference@cmcoh.org     www.cmcoh.org
  

(Cleveland, Ohio)  – The Cleveland Municipal Court has begun implementation of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), a data-driven risk assessment tool that provides objective information for judges to consider when deciding whether to release or detain a defendant prior to trial.

The Honorable Jimmy L. Jackson Jr. was the first judge to experience the new system in the Cleveland Municipal Court’s Arraignment room.

Click here to read "Cleveland Municipal Court is now using highly regarded Arnold Foundation bail-setting method: Justice For All" from cleveland.com.

“My experience was very positive.  Up until now, because of the way data was captured and stored, it was difficult to determine if the defendant previously missed court dates.  With the PSA, now we know. That information is a key component in setting bond,” said Judge Jackson.

Cleveland Municipal Court’s Administrative and Presiding Judge Ronald B. Adrine said the PSA is just another step in the court’s efforts with regards to bail/bond reform.

“The first step was a modification of our bail schedule early last year that placed the emphasis on risk rather than resources in deciding whether to release particular low-risk defendants.  The second step was partnering with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to determine the feasibility of using the PSA. Now that it’s in place, we will use first 60 days of data to develop a risk profile and identify potential risk management strategies for our incarcerated population,” said Judge Adrine.

The PSA uses nine evidence-based factors to produce two risk scores: one predicting the likelihood that an individual will commit a new crime if released pending trial, and another predicting the likelihood, if released, whether he or she will fail to return for future court hearings. The tool also flags defendants that it calculates present an elevated risk of committing a violent crime if released pre-trial.  Scores fall on a scale of one to six, with higher scores indicating a greater level of risk. This evidence-based objective data helps judges gauge the risk that a defendant poses, regardless of whether they have the money or other resources to post a monetary bond.

The factors are:

 -Whether the current offense is violent
-Whether the person had a pending charge at the time of the current offense
-Whether the person has a prior misdemeanor conviction
-Whether the person has a prior felony conviction
-Whether the person has prior convictions for violent crimes
-The person’s age at the time of arrest
-How many times the person failed to appear at a pretrial hearing in the last two years
-Whether the person failed to appear at a pretrial hearing more than two years ago
-Whether the person has previously been sentenced to incarceration.

It should be noted the PSA tool does not replace the judge or impede his or her discretion or authority in any way. The decision about whether to release or detain a defendant always rests with the judge.

The PSA is being used, or is in the process of being implemented, in approximately 40 jurisdictions across the country, including three entire states – Arizona, Kentucky, and New Jersey – as well as some of the nation’s largest cities such as Chicago, Houston, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee. Initial results indicate that the tool is helping to protect public safety while reducing jail populations and freeing up funds for other government priorities.

LJAF partnered with leading criminal justice researchers to develop the tool, which was created using the largest, most diverse set of pretrial records ever assembled – 1.5 million cases from approximately 300 jurisdictions across the United States. Researchers analyzed 750,000 of those cases and the isolated factors that most often exist for defendants who commit a new crime, commit a violent crime, or fail to return to court if released before trial.

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