The Pretrial Processes Workgroup is a subgroup of the Legal and Justice Committee focused on developing a pretrial release assessment tool and monitoring unit for Superior Court. Participants include representatives from Superior and District Courts, the Prosecutor's Office, the Public Defender's Office, the small Cities, and members of the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force.
Upcoming Workgroup meetings are scheduled below. In general, the meetings are from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Courthouse Fifth Floor Conference Room 514, 311 Grand Avenue, Bellingham. Additional meetings may be scheduled as needed, and meeting dates may change. Please check this webpage periodically for confirmed meeting information. The audio recordings of the meetings are the official transcripts. No summaries are created.
Determining conditions for pretrial release is one of the most important decisions in criminal justice. Courts are required to order the least restrictive conditions that are reasonably necessary to cause a defendant to return to court and to protect the safety of the community.
Every pretrial risk assessment tool should:
1.Consider the individual circumstances of each defendant;
2.Apply factors known to indicate a likelihood that a defendant will comply with the court’s pretrial conditions, or a risk that a defendant will not comply;
3.Provide judicial officers with clear and individualized assessments of risk factors;
4.Identify pretrial release conditions which will address a defendant’s risk factors and promote that defendant’s compliance with court orders and return to court as ordered.
CORE FUNCTIONS OF A PRETRIAL RELEASE
The core functions of a pretrial release program include:
1.A process for obtaining current, accurate information from legal system and law enforcement databases, and from the defendant, as early as possible and in most cases before the defendant’s first appearance before a judicial officer;
2.Verification processes to confirm interview information and criminal history checks.
3.Use of a validated tool to assess risk of pretrial misconduct through objective means, and to present recommendations to the court for pretrial release conditions which are appropriate to each individual defendant’s risk factors and circumstances;
4.Accountable and appropriate pretrial supervision or monitoring of defendants who are released, including court date reminders to assure the defendant’s appearance in court;
5.Follow up reviews, at reasonable intervals, of defendants who were unable to meet the release conditions ordered by the court
6.Accurate reporting of outcomes, and an ongoing process to assure accurate pretrial assessments and effective pretrial monitoring and supervision.