This bill would implement a revised pretrial release procedure

(1)Collect data related to pretrial release, pretrial detention, and pretrial decisionmaking.

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The pretrial release decision greatly affects counties. The size of the pretrial population in county jails is largely the result of judicial decision-making. Pretrial detention imposes significant costs to counties. According to the U.S. Attorney General, county governments spend around $9 billion annually on jailing defendants while they are awaiting their trial. In addition to direct county jail costs, detaining the pretrial population produces indirect costs. Pretrial detention may result in defendants losing employment, adversely affecting family relationships and creating economic hardship for the defendant’s financial dependents, increasing the family’s dependence on the county safety net. Further, defendants incarcerated during pretrial may experience the reduction or loss of access to health care and social services, which are difficult to provide in county jails. Pretrial detainees are more likely to be sentenced and receive longer sentences compared to defendants who were out of jail confinement during pretrial, regardless of similarity in offense type and other relevant legal and case factors. These case outcomes are more severe for lower and moderate risk defendants who are detained pretrial.

(3)Consult available research and data on the current effectiveness of pretrial release conditions.

Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine

Pretrial release decision-making is a product of the court. Understanding the impact of courts’ decision-making, especially during pretrial, on the jail population is important for counties with rapidly rising jail populations and costs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the jail population increased by 20 percent between 2000 and 2012 with the pretrial population comprising a rising share, while county corrections costs soared by 74 percent. Forty-four (44) percent of responding county jails to the 2015 NACo survey report that managing jail costs is one of their top challenges. Reducing the jail population — especially the number of people with mental illnesses — is a priority for almost three quarters of responding jails. More than 65 percent of county jails report that their county boards are willing to collaborate on reducing the jail population and jail costs. Counties can act as conveners, bringing together the court and jail to discuss and implement strategies that may effectively address the pretrial population in jail.

(2)Guidelines for identification of pretrial release conditions based on risk assessment results.

The pretrial stage of the criminal justice system uses a combination of law enforcement, court and county jail resources. County policies and practices in both courts and jails determine release from jail during the pretrial stage. Through bail, the court sets the conditions of release (for definitions, see Key Terms Used in this Report). Even in cases in which the charge or status of the defendant bars the presumption of eligibility for pretrial release under state law, a judge can release a defendant after a bail hearing, if the defendant fulfills the conditions of release. Defendants may secure release from jail pretrial, depending on their ability to meet the financial or non-financial conditions set by the court. In cases where the court denies a defendant pretrial release or the defendant is held on bond, the individual remains in custody in the county jail, while the case against them moves through the court system. Even in jail, however, a defendant may participate in the county jail’s community based supervision programs that supervise pretrial detainees outside of confinement. Further, county jails can have an indirect role in deciding who is placed in a supervision program, if the eligibility of the pretrial detainee to participate in the program depends on the classification level determined by the jail.

(2)The percentage of individuals released pretrial who fail to appear as required.

Association of Pretrial Professionals of Florida

This research provides a baseline for the role of county jails in pretrial release, their challenges and solutions. The study draws upon the results of a National Association of Counties survey of 1,322 county jails conducted between March and April 2015 (hereafter “2015 NACo survey”). The 2015 survey received responses from 282 county jail jurisdictions (21.3 percent response rate).

County Jails at a Crossroads | NACo

A third of responding county jails to the 2015 NACo survey release pretrial detainees from custody and supervise them in the community through different types of community based programs, depending on the needs of the detainees. These programs may be focused specifically on pretrial supervision — where the type of supervision used varies on a case-by-case basis — or deal with both pretrial and convicted populations through health treatment, electronic monitoring, home arrest and work release. Most county jails have more than one type of program. Pretrial supervision programs focus overwhelmingly on the pretrial population (95 percent of their population), followed by physical health care and behavioral health treatment programs in which close to half of the supervised population is pretrial. Overall, few pretrial detainees are placed in these programs. Only 28 percent of the detainees released by respondent jails in 2014 were pretrial. The county jail programs that supervise pretrial persons are just one part of the larger county pretrial system that includes formal pretrial services agencies that provide information on defendants to judges for the pretrial release decision; policies that force release pretrial detainees when the jail population reaches a certain capacity; and bond review practices.


This study is the first to examine the participation of county jails in pretrial release. The report identifies the pretrial status and risk level of the county jail population and variations across counties of different population sizes. Further, this research analyzes the challenges that county jails face with their pretrial and overall jail population. The study details to what extent county jails use community based programs to release pretrial detainees from confinement in jail and supervise them in the community. In addition, the research examines the presence of other county policies and practices that may result in the release of the pretrial population from jail. This report provides a first step in understanding the role of counties in pretrial release.