January 2014 marked the adoption of the new ACJA 5-201 “Evidence Based Pretrial Services” via Administrative Order 2014-12. This set the governance for pretrial for all courts in Arizona incorporating research and evidence-based practices. It also required Courts operating pretrial services to use a pretrial risk assessment tool approved by the Arizona Judicial Council to assist in determining a defendant’s likelihood of committing a new crime or failing to appear for court while on pretrial release. On May 7, 2015, Administrative Order 2015-38 was signed by the Chief Justice, adopting the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) as an approved pretrial risk assessment tool to use statewide.
On March 3, 2016, Chief Justice Scott Bales issued Administrative Order 2016-16, which established the Task Force on Fair Justice for All: Court-Ordered Fines, Penalties, Fees, and Pretrial Release Policies. Along with many other directives, the group was tasked with addressing with the following areas specifically pertaining to pretrial release:
- Recommend best practices for making release decisions that protect the public but do not keep people in jail solely for the inability to pay bail.
- Recommend educational programs for judicial officers, including pro-tem judges and court staff who are part of the pretrial decision-making process.
- Identify technological solutions and other best practices that provide defendant notifications of court dates and other court-ordered deadlines using mobile applications to reduce the number of defendants who fail to appear for court and to encourage people who receive citations to come to court.
Many recommendations were determined by the task force, which were carried forward in Chief Justice Robert Brutinel’s strategic agenda for 2019-2024, “Justice for the Future: Planning for Excellence”. Some of the initiatives in this agenda include continuing to refine and develop pretrial release initiatives that help determine release conditions and improve appearance rates. This includes expanding use of the pretrial release assessment tool to help courts make pretrial release decisions and using notification tools to assist defendant appearing in court to timely address their cases. The strategic agenda also includes continuing judicial education of the pretrial release rules and best practices for deciding release conditions and improving appearance rates.
APSD Central Services Manager