Pretrial release and detention decisions for defendants are increasingly guided by risk assessments guided by data, which are intended to counteract biases but have the potential to introduce new biases and perpetuate racial disparities. This research brief describes the approach taken by MDRC to understand, assess, and address these biases.
Effects of New Jersey’s Criminal Justice Reform
In 2017, New Jersey implemented sweeping changes to its pretrial justice system. This report is one of a planned series on the impacts of those changes. It describes how the reforms affected short-term outcomes including arrests, complaint charging decisions, release conditions, and initial jail bookings.
Effects in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
The Public Safety Assessment (PSA) assesses the likelihood that a defendant will commit a new crime or fail to appear for court hearings, information that then can guide decisions about release conditions. This study presents the effects of the PSA and related policy changes in Mecklenburg County, NC.
An Alternative to Bail
Defendants awaiting trial and unable to post bail are often detained in local jails unnecessarily, disrupting their lives and adding to costs for taxpayers. To address this situation, New York City has launched a program that gives judges the option to release some defendants to community-based supervision.
Improving Outcomes for Clients While Helping Systems Further Their Missions
This issue focus describes how MDRC is helping administrators in criminal justice and child support enforcement test innovative reforms to improve the way their systems interact with low-income people, particularly men of color.