News Library

Cleveland Municipal Court to Implement Data-Driven Pretrial Risk Assessment

Dec 06, 2016
(Cleveland, Ohio) – The Cleveland Municipal Court announced today that it will implement the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), a data-driven risk assessment tool that provides objective information that judges can consider when deciding whether to release or detain a defendant prior to trial.
Contact:  Ed Ferenc, Public Information Officer                                  
Cleveland Municipal Court
216 664 6787 / 216 789 2597
ference@cmcoh.org     www.cmcoh.org

(Cleveland, Ohio)  – The Cleveland Municipal Court announced today that it will implement the
Public Safety Assessment (PSA), a data-driven risk assessment tool that provides objective information that judges can consider when deciding whether to release or detain a defendant prior to trial.

Click the following link for coverage of this event on cleveland.com, "Watch Cleveland Municipal Court Judge and Others Talk about Bail Reforms Coming in 2017 (video)".


Developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), the PSA uses nine evidence-based factors to produce two risk scores: one predicting the likelihood that an individual will commit a new crime if released pending trial, and another predicting the likelihood that he or she will fail to return for a future court hearing. The tool will also flag defendants that it calculates present an elevated risk of committing a violent crime. Scores fall on a scale of one to six, with higher scores indicating a greater level of risk. This neutral, reliable data can help judges gauge the risk that a defendant poses.

Additional coverage from cleveland.com, "Cleveland Court Officials, Nonprofit Partner Detail Plans for Fixing Bail System".

However, the tool does not replace the judge or impede his or her discretion or authority in any way. The final ruling about whether to release or detain a defendant always rests with the judge.

"To ensure that our judicial system, and our criminal justice system more broadly, serves our community
fairly and effectively, it is critical that our judges are well-equipped to make pretrial determinations,” Cleveland Municipal Court Administrative and Presiding Judge Ronald B. Adrine explained. “That is why we are excited to introduce the Public Safety Assessment in Cleveland and to give judges neutral data about a given defendant’s level of risk when making these impactful decisions. I’m hopeful that by using the PSA, we will continue to bolster public safety and ensure that only those who pose a significant risk are detained, and those who can be safely released are able to be productive members of our community while they await their court date.”

The PSA is being used, or is in the process of being implemented, in
more than 30 jurisdictions across the country, including three entire states – Arizona, Kentucky, and New Jersey – as well as some of the nation’s largest cities such as Chicago, Houston, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee. Initial results indicate that the tool is helping to protect public safety while reducing jail populations and freeing up funds for other government priorities. A recent analysis of the impact of the PSA in Lucas County, Ohio, demonstrated that the tool is race and gender neutral, and the data showed that since the County adopted the PSA, the percentage of pretrial defendants arrested for other crimes while out on release has been cut in half, and significantly more pretrial defendants are returning to court. Overall, the number of defendants released in Lucas County on their own recognizance without the need for bail jumped from 14 percent to nearly 28 percent since the county began using the PSA.

The factors are:
  • Whether the current offense is violent
  • Whether the person had a pending charge at the time of the current offense
  • Whether the person has a prior misdemeanor conviction
  • Whether the person has a prior felony conviction
  • Whether the person has prior convictions for violent crimes
  • The person’s age at the time of arrest
  • How many times the person failed to appear at a pretrial hearing in the last two years
  • Whether the person failed to appear at a pretrial hearing more than two years ago
  • Whether the person has previously been sentenced to incarceration.

LJAF partnered with leading criminal justice researchers to develop the tool, which was created using the largest, most diverse set of pretrial records ever assembled – 1.5 million cases from approximately 300 jurisdictions across the United States. Researchers analyzed the data and the isolated factors that most often exist for defendants who commit a new crime, commit a violent crime, or fail to return to court if released before trial.

There is significant momentum here in Cleveland and throughout the County for meaningful and effective criminal justice reforms, and we are proud that the Public Safety Assessment can play a part in making the system more just,” LJAF Vice President of Criminal Justice Matt Alsdorf said. “Unnecessary pretrial detentions put a major strain on local budgets and have an enormous impact on defendants’ lives. We applaud Judge Adrine, local officials, and community stakeholders who have all come together to help advance pretrial reform.”

LJAF is making the PSA available for free to the Cleveland Municipal Court and all other jurisdictions that are implementing the tool.

Copyright© 2012 | Home | Terms of Use | Site MapWebmaster | RDWeb | WebMail