Current practices for pre-trial offender processing in Washington courts do not include any form of standardized risk assessment that provides objective information to inform pre-trial decisions on bail and/or custody. The use of standardized pre-trial risk assessment will optimize standard bail and pre-trial practices and improve overall decision-making across the state.
The current nature of information a judicial officer receives to make pre-trial decisions at the time of arraignment or first appearance is inconsistent between trial courts. An actuarially based risk assessment provides a uniform calculation of an offender’s risk to commit future violations based on static information. Receiving a risk level estimation on each offender at the pre-trial stage is more instructive to a judicial officer than receiving criminal history because the algorithm calculates the criminal and violation history into a risk level.
In addition to other related policy, fiscal, and offender management strategies, the risk calculation provides a valuable piece of information on which to based pre-trial decisions.
The risk score is the first critical step in establishing a system of offender management based on assessment, targeting evidence based interventions to criminogenic needs, applying case management principles, and a system of tracking program effectiveness.