OLYMPIA – After an extensive national application process, Thurston County is excited to announce that it was selected as one of five Research-Action Sites that will participate in the Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research (APPR) initiative! The initiative is part of the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice (NPPJ) and supported by Arnold Ventures.
Over the next five years, law and justice professionals across the county will be working in partnership with researchers and justice experts to make improvements to the county's pretrial justice system in ways that prioritize the safety of county residents, reduce discrimination based on wealth and race, and lower jail population and recidivism rates.
The goal of the initiative is to reduce the jail population by improving the county's pretrial justice system, building on current tools and strategies that promote a justice system that is fair and equitable, and reserving incarceration only for those who jeopardize public safety.
As an APPR Research-Action Site, Thurston County will receive intensive assistance from justice experts to study the county’s pretrial system, understand data, and design and implement research-based strategies that are responsive to local needs. The first-year initiative will involve a robust planning process of research and analyses, guided by local justice system leaders that include the
• District and Superior Courts,
• Sheriff’s Office,
• Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,
• Pretrial Services and Public Defense Departments,
• City of Lacey Police Department, and
• Board of County Commissioners.
Other partners include the Thurston County Information Technology Department, Washington Center for State Court Research, and Administrative Office of the Courts.
“We are excited to be part of this important initiative, which has the potential to advance important pretrial reforms in Thurston County,” said Marianne Clear, Pretrial Services Director for the county. “Ultimately, our goal is to implement the Public Safety Assessment, or PSA. This tool will help make our justice system more equitable and assist our county leadership in the 3 M’s: maximizing public safety, maximizing release and maximizing court appearance.”
Through this initiative and in consultation with community leaders, Thurston County will identify opportunities to improve our local justice system and test the PSA. Improvements identified in Thurston County will be disseminated widely. You can learn more about APPR and this project at www.psapretrial.org/advancingpretrial
Pierce County was also selected as one of the five Research-Action Sites and is the only other Washington State jurisdiction participating in this initiative. The other Research-Action Sites include
• Montgomery County, Alabama,
• Fulton County, Georgia, and
• Catawba County, North Carolina.
The pretrial phase of the criminal justice process begins as soon as a law enforcement officer suspects an individual of violating the law. From that initial contact until final disposition, a series of decision points occur. At each point, justice system officials – including law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judicial officials – make decisions that influence or determine whether an individual remains in the community or is detained in jail pending trial.
The PSA was developed to provide judges with information to help them assess a person’s likelihood of returning to court for future hearings and remaining crime free while on pretrial release. It uses age, current charge, and criminal history to score risk of failure to appear in court and risk of new criminal arrest, from a low score of one to a high score of six. The PSA does not direct a judge to release or detain a person, or dictate any conditions of release. The decision rests with the judge and must be determined with the full evaluation of information, not based solely on a person’s PSA score.