Tuesday, December 01, 2015 | 11:32am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three Tennessee communities are in the fourth phase of a selection process for the state’s first Pretrial Risk Assessment Pilot sites.

The Department of Finance and Administration Office of Criminal Justice Programs (OCJP) will schedule an on-site assessment in each community in December, looking at capacity and readiness to serve as pilot sites.

“Whether a defendant, if released, may commit a new crime or a violent crime or even disappear is a critical decision in the criminal justice system,” OCJP Director Bill Scollon said. “Failure to make that determination appropriately can carry huge costs – both human and financial. This system will give judges – who many times rely on instinct – tools to assist in this important decision.”  

Ten states and the U.S. government have pre-trial risk assessment programs.  According to the Pre-Trial Justice Institute, the bail system is outdated, unfair and expensive, costing taxpayers more than $9 billion each year without doing enough to protect public safety. In addition, the Institute says, defendants with money, regardless of the danger they pose to the community or to individuals, can purchase their freedom while poor defendants remain in jail

The goal of the project is to enhance public safety and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system by implementing a data-driven framework for pretrial release decision making. Risk-based decision making can eliminate unnecessary detention of low-risk defendants while at the same time allocating more intensive and restrictive options for higher risk defendants. Awards will be made for up to $360,000 over a 42-month grant period.

Pilot sites will participate in the implementation and validation of a pretrial risk assessment instrument. The Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) at Community Resources for Justice will provide technical assistance and evaluation during the assessment. CJI works with local, state and national criminal justice organizations to improve public safety and the delivery of justice throughout the country.

Finance & Administration