Development of an Empirically-Based Risk Assessment Instrument

Research Report

Development of an Empirically-Based Risk Assessment Instrument


In 2001, the Urban Institute was commissioned by the District of Columbia Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) to develop a risk assessment instrument to assist its diagnosticians in recommending conditions of pretrial release. The instrument designed by the Urban Institute and described in this report serves two goals: 1) make the development of release recommendations more objective and consistent across defendants and improve the transparency of PSA processes, and 2) improve the accuracy of decision-making based on risk assessment. This instrument should increase public safety, reduce court costs associated with non-appearance, and reduce the number of low-risk defendants whose liberty is restricted.

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