Data-Driven Decision-Making to Improve Pretrial Identification
Govciooutlook

Data-Driven Decision-Making to Improve Pretrial Identification

By Catalina Joseph, Gov CIO Outlook | Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Data analytics is used to make decisions about pretrial identification, local governments could find significant savings while making their communities much safer.

FREMONT, CA: Some areas of local government spending present improved opportunities for significant savings than those that surround pretrial identification. Cities and counties are wasting about $3 billion a year and inducing crime and job loss by holding the wrong people while they wait for trial. The problem is that only 10 percent of jurisdictions use risk data analytics for deciding the detainees. As a result, dangerous people are out in the communities, while several of them who could be safely in the community are behind bars. A large number of people accused of petty offenses spend their pretrial detention time jailed alongside hardened convicts, knowing from them how to be better criminals.

Ideally, deciding who should stay behind bars and who should be released is determined considering the individual's risk of not showing up for court and his or her risk of committing a crime while waiting for trial. However, the point of consideration for making a decision is often the defendant's pocketbook. Those who have the money for bail get out, while the rest remain in jail. About 50 percent of Americans don't have $400 for emergencies; if they are arrested, they will most definitely be staying in jail until trial. The long-term economic effect of incarceration is drop of 40 percent in revenue earnings.

In today's times, analytics not only can forecast and help avoid crime but can also help determine who should be diverted from jail to treatment for underlying mental health or substance abuse problems. Avoided costs aggregating can be used on detaining high-risk individuals, provide substance abuse and mental health treatment, more police officers, and other public safety offerings. Jurisdictions that do use this information to make pretrial decisions have secured lower not only costs but also greater fairness and lower crime rates. Data-driven approaches are starting to produce benefits not only in the sector of pretrial detention but throughout the criminal justice operations. Dashboards now in use in very few jurisdictions enable not only administrators but also the public to see court waiting times by offender type and to determine and address processing bottlenecks.

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