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Pretrial Services Program Implementation: A Starter Kit

NCJ Number
Date Published
56 pages

This Starter Kit provides information on implementing a pretrial services program in jurisdictions that do not have one, but are planning to design and implement one, as well as jurisdictions that have a pretrial services program with minimal services and want to improve the program.


The first section describes the legal framework for pretrial release decisionmaking, which must be understood before deciding how a pretrial-release program in a given jurisdiction should be designed. The second section identifies and discusses the six core functions of a pretrial services program. One function is to ensure an impartial universal screening of all defendants, regardless of charge. Other functions are to verify interview information and criminal history checks; assess risk of pretrial misconduct using objective means and present recommendations to the court based on risk level; and conduct follow-up reviews of defendants unable to meet release conditions. Other functions of a pretrial services program are to provide accountable and appropriate supervision of those released and report on process and outcome measures to stakeholders. The third section of the Starter Kit presents the steps that must be completed in implementing a pretrial services program that incorporates the previous core functions. This is followed by a checklist for starting a pretrial services program. The appendix includes examples of interview forms, risk assessment tools, supervision forms, and other materials that relate to the core functions that are used in jurisdictions with extensive experience in providing pretrial services.