Data Analysis Jail Populations Pretrial and Bail November 19, 2020

Dollars and Sense In Cook County

Don Stemen and David Olson (Loyola University Chicago)

This report by researchers at the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice at Loyola University Chicago analyzes the impact of bond reform in Cook County on felony bond court decisions, pretrial release, and crime. Researchers evaluated a 2017 general order by Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Timothy Evans reevaluating the use of monetary bail in Cook County. Using independent data, researchers found that Judge Evans’ general order increased the number of people released pretrial and was not associated with any significant change in new criminal activity, violent or otherwise, and was not associated with any change in the amount of crime in Chicago after 2017.


Data Analysis Human Toll of Jail Pretrial and Bail September 9, 2020

In the Shadows: A Review of the Research on Plea Bargaining

Ram Subramanian, Leon Digard, Melvin Washington II, and Stephanie Sorage (The Vera Institute of Justice)

There are concerns about plea bargaining’s coercive nature, its role in encouraging the forfeiture of procedural protections, and its role in fueling mass incarceration. In order to provide an accessible summary of existing research, the Vera Institute of Justice, with support from the Safety and Justice Challenge, examined the small but growing body of empirical studies that has developed around plea bargaining. The result is a mix of complicated, nuanced, and sometimes contradictory research findings.


Courts Data Analysis Pretrial and Bail June 25, 2020

The Present And Future Of AI In Pre-Trial Risk Assessment Instruments

Alexandra Chouldechova and Kristian Lum

From music and romantic partner recommendation, to medical diagnosis and disease outbreak detection, to automated essay scoring, “Artificial intelligence” (AI) systems are being used to tackle prediction, classification, and detection tasks that impact nearly every sphere of our lives. Since the fundamental task of pre-trial risk assessment instruments is one of prediction, we anticipate that the success of AI technology in these other domains will inspire an increase in the availability of AI-based pre-trial risk assessment instruments in the coming years. The purpose of this critical issue brief is primarily to equip practitioners considering adopting an AI-based pre-trial risk assessment tool to consider questions relevant to determining whether adopting such a system a will result in better predictions and ultimately move their jurisdiction towards fairer, more just and decarceral pre-trial decisionmaking that respects civil and human rights.

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Issue Brief

Data Analysis Presumption of Innocence Pretrial and Bail May 21, 2020

The “Radical” Notion Of The Presumption Of Innocence

Tracey Meares and Arthur Rizer -- The Square One Project

In the face of contemporary practices across the United States, it is difficult not to conclude that commitment to the presumption of innocence is a radical idea. Given the evidence of the enduring inability of state bureaucracies to respect the presumption, the authors think it is necessary to support this bedrock principle with another presumption: a presumption of liberty.

Issue Brief

Data Analysis Pretrial and Bail Racial Disparities December 12, 2019

Civil Rights and Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments

David G. Robinson and Logan Koepke Upturn, Inc.

Jurisdictions across the United States are considering or starting to implement pretrial risk assessment instruments, yet many civil rights advocates argue that such instruments should play no role at all in pretrial administration. They further argue that, where pretrial risk assessment instruments remain in use, such instruments be carefully circumscribed in order to be made legally, morally, and practically defensible.

This brief answers two questions. First: Why do many in the civil rights community oppose the use of pretrial risk assessment instruments? Second: What concrete reform strategies are available that would avoid risk assessment instruments, or would sharply limit their role? With or without pretrial risk assessment instruments, there are powerful policy levers available that can address mass pretrial incarceration, replace the for-profit bail industry, and make progress toward racial equity.

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