A strong pretrial system is key to successfully redirecting ensuring that individuals who can safely remain the community pending trial are not held in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. Communities should implement a validated risk assessment to inform the safe release of these low-risk individuals pretrial. A strong pretrial system also allows communities to develop a comprehensive approach to the pretrial services they offer, ranging from mobile crisis units, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), pretrial release supervision and problem-solving courts. No two communities are alike; each develops a different pretrial system that addresses their needs and provides effective response options for justice and behavioral health professionals.
Many counties have made changes to their pretrial justice systems and practices as a way to safely reduce jail populations, more effectively use resources and improve outcomes for individuals and communities.
When Eau Claire County, Wisc., implemented evidence-based decision making in its justice system, the county prioritized the use of assessment tools to determine eligibility for diversion programs and to inform sentencing and other court-related decisions. Eau Claire County uses an assessment tool, called the Proxy, to make pretrial decisions.