NLADA and ACCD Call for Risk Assessment as Necessary Component of Fair Pretrial Systems

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On May 10, 2017, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) and the American Council of Chief Defenders (ACCD) joined a coalition of national criminal defense organizations to strongly endorse and call for the use of validated pretrial risk assessment in all jurisdictions, as a necessary component of a fair pretrial release system that reduces unnecessary detention and eliminates racial bias. In partnership with Gideon’s Promise, the National Association for Public Defense, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, NLADA and ACCD addressed how the current system of pretrial detention and release - cash bail - unfairly and disproportionately affects African-American and Hispanic people, whereas validated pretrial risk assessment instruments have been shown to increase rates of pretrial release, including for people of color.

The coalition urged that risk assessment instruments be implemented with a number of checks and balances to ensure that they are accurate and unbiased, including transparent and periodic examination of data, to review for accuracy and disparate impact; inclusion of defenders in the selection of risk assessment tools; and adequate time, training, and resources for defenders to learn important information about clients that may not be captured by a risk assessment tool.

 

Read the Statement 

 

For more about risk assessment in criminal justice decision-making, read NLADA's 2015 report, Risk & Needs Assessments: What Defenders and Chief Defenders Need to Know.