Sarah Picard joined MDRC in September 2021 as the Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research. Her work focuses on policy-level reform in the adult criminal justice context and how research evidence can best be translated into practice. Picard brings more than fifteen years of applied research experience in justice system research and reform and is currently playing a leadership role on MDRC’s Pretrial Justice Collaborative and acting as a senior advisor on the Los Angeles County Reentry Integrated Services Project. Before joining MDRC, Picard was the Director of Research-Practice Strategies at the Center for Court Innovation. She has extensive experience studying the use of actuarial risk assessment tools in court settings and has recently completed a study modeling the potential impact of risk assessment on pretrial racial disparities in New York City. Other past research includes mixed-methods evaluations of problem-solving initiatives ranging from pretrial reform initiatives to community-based gun violence prevention and problem-solving courts. She received her Ph.D. in criminal justice from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
Findings from the Pretrial Justice CollaborativeJanuary, 2023
In place of bail, many jurisdictions are instead releasing people awaiting trial with varying levels of supervision in an effort to ensure that they appear in court and avoid new arrests. This brief compares the relative effectiveness of different intensities of pretrial supervision.Commentary
Promising Strategies for Reforming Pretrial Justice Systems: Strengthening the Presumption of ReleaseMay, 2022
Research suggests that pretrial policy reforms supporting arrested individuals’ release pending trial—unless evidence shows they will not return to court or they pose a threat to public safety—have positive results. This post discusses several policies that were established to prevent the overuse of pretrial detention.CommentaryApril, 2022
In this commentary originally published by The Crime Report, Melanie Skemer and Sarah Picard discuss how recent media coverage about the relationship between New York State’s bail reform and an uptick in crime has been misleading, particularly in using newly released data to conflate bail reform with a program called supervised release.
In recent years, policymakers and other leaders have established new systems intended to divert people experiencing mental health crises away from the criminal legal system before an arrest occurs. While there is some research supporting the effectiveness of police-mental health collaboration models, the evidence is mixed and very little is known about long-term...
Established in 2021, the Jefferson County Equitable Fines and Fees Project (Project JEFF ) is a collaboration between MDRC , the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Alabama’s Tenth Judicial Circuit Court, and the Center for Court Innovation. The purpose of this collaborative is to better understand the debt landscape and the impacts of legal financial...
Jurisdictions across the country are striving to increase equity in their pretrial justice systems by reducing their use of pretrial detention and money bail, which affect Black people and other people of color disproportionately and are linked to negative health and well-being outcomes. Despite the intentions of these reforms, there is little rigorous evidence...Bret Barden, Sarah Picard, Michelle S. Manno, Douglas Phillips, Osvaldo Avila, Emily Brennan, Rae Walker, Raul Armenta, Jayce Helpley
Every year, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services’ Office of Diversion and Reentry ( ODR ) provides reentry services for thousands of people involved in the justice system. These services cover a wide variety of needs, ranging from employment services and skills training for individuals on adult felony probation to connections to community organizations...Bret Barden, Melanie Skemer, Chloe Anderson Golub, Brit Henderson, Lily Freedman, Emily Brennan, Sarah Picard, Rae Walker
Jurisdictions across the United States are taking steps to reduce the number of people who are detained in jail unnecessarily while awaiting trial. These reforms include the use of risk-assessment tools to inform release decisions and supervision programs during the pretrial period (before a case is adjudicated) to maintain court appearance and arrest...Sarah Picard, Melanie Skemer, Bret Barden, Chloe Anderson Golub, Brit Henderson, Lily Freedman, Rae Walker, Michelle S. Manno, Raul Armenta, Emily Brennan, Kyla Wasserman
MDRC ’s Center for Criminal Justice Research is dedicated to developing, evaluating, and disseminating actionable models for justice reform that improve efficacy, mitigate harm, and center those directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
We are committed to advancing evidence-based, equitable, and accessible solutions, sharing research findings with...