Ada County’s judges have access to a new tool today that will allow them to make better-informed decisions on whether to let someone just arrested to get out of jail.
Ada County Sheriff’s Office employees are now using a revised version of the Idaho Pretrial Risk Assessment (IPRAI) report that judges review before people who are arrested make their first court appearance.
The ACSO’s Pretrial Services staff has been doing a risk assessment and interview for each new inmate booked into the jail since February. The IPRAI examines inmate’s previous criminal history and other factors, like current employment and history of drug use.
The IPRAI creates a score to assess how likely that inmate would be to commit a new crime, get arrested again, or not show up for court if they are released from jail while their cases go through the court system.
The judges are given the IPRAI report, which allows them to make more informed decisions when deciding what, if any, amount of bail there should be in a case or to release the person on their own recognizance.
Our staff will also do the IPRAI for people who are arrested on warrants and have already been released from jail after posting a cash bond. Those assessments will be done without an interview and given to the judge before that person makes their initial court appearance.
If the judge decides to release someone on their own recognizance without having to pay a cash bond, that person will be assigned to and managed by the ACSO’s Pretrial unit. That applies to misdemeanor and felony cases.
If a judge decides to assign a cash bond to the case, those people will be managed by private vendors in the community, who may require conditions like electronic monitoring or drug testing — if those people pay the bond and are released.
When we started working with the MacArthur Foundation in 2015 on strategies to reduce our jail population and increase fairness in the legal system, one of the first things we analyzed was the traditional cash bond system.
If people arrested for crimes have access to money, in many cases they can pay a cash bond and be released from jail while their criminal case moves through the court system.
That doesn’t really work for people on limited incomes — or take into account the risk to the community in a scientific way.
We feel the decision on whether or not someone charged with a crime should be in jail or not should be based on risk to the community, not the size of a bank account.
The decision on whether or not to issue a cash bond is ultimately up the judges of the 4th Judicial District.
Our long-term hope is that this pilot program with the 4th District Judges will prove to be a more effective and fairer way to manage risk.
Our staff has had success with the IPRAI since February. They’ve done about 5,700 risk assessments since then – and 91% of the inmates released from jail haven’t committed any new crimes before their cases were resolved.