Scientific, data-driven, risk assessments can help judges make decisions about what risks defendants pose and save money on pretrial incarceration while protecting the public, says the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The foundation released research based on a study of 750,000 cases from more than 300 places. Researchers identified nine factors, based largely on defendants’ criminal histories, that were the strongest predictors of risk.
The foundation developed a comprehensive, universal risk assessment—the Public Safety Assessment-Court (PSA-Court)—that it says can accurately, quickly, and efficiently assess the risk that a defendant will engage in violence, commit a new crime, or fail to come back to court. Kentucky's 120 counties have been using the PSA-Court since July, and early results are promising, the founation says. The tool will soon be deployed in other pilot sites and will be followed by a national rollout.