Olmsted County Pretrial Release Program

2021 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Olmsted County, Minn., MN

About the Program

Category: Criminal Justice and Public Safety (Best in Category)

Year: 2021

Olmsted County launched its Pretrial Release Program in January 2019. This program helps reduce the jail population by offering alternatives to incarceration pre-conviction. Incarceration removes the presumption of innocence for those charged with a criminal offense. Use of custody pretrial should only occur when someone presents a risk to public safety and/or is unlikely to appear in court. Bail and pretrial detention have become misused, disproportionately incarcerating people of color and indigent populations. In jail, individuals risk losing employment, housing, and family. Further, cash bail does not ensure public safety, it merely perpetuates the narrative that those with money are allowed release and those without do not receive the same. The Minnesota Pretrial Assessment Tool (MPAT) is given to those appearing for court on a new offense. Of 883 MNPATs in Olmsted County in 2020, only 6% were done on clients already in the Pretrial Release Program. This shows just a small percentage of people in the program are reoffending – which speaks to enhanced public safety. Of 477 clients who participated in pretrial services since 2019, we have data on 280. Of these, 81% attended scheduled court appearances while on pretrial and 19% missed court. This demonstrates the program’s success.