Tyler + Alameda = Pretrial Success

May 18, 2020 by Meredith Trimble

Tyler Supervision Enables Award-Winning Pretrial Pilot

Tyler + Alameda = Pretrial Success

The topic of pretrial reform is gaining traction across the country. How the period between an arrest and trial is handled has significant effects not just on defendants’ lives, but also on community costs and, now with COVID-19 concerns in jails, public health.

Industry experts including the Conference of State Court Administrators are encouraging courts to use non-financial release conditions for the pretrial period. This is in large part because pretrial release decisions based solely on defendants’ ability to pay bail penalizes the poor and fails to meaningfully protect the public. Automated, evidence-based pretrial risk assessment tools are simply better predictors of pretrial success or failure than the ability to pay bail.

First-of-Its-Kind Initiative

The Alameda County Probation Department based in Oakland, California, is seeing success as part of a pilot program to increase safe and efficient pretrial releases through new pretrial risk assessment tools. The program, overseen by the Judicial Council of California, tests how to use scarce jail resources for individuals who pose a serious risk to the public while releasing low-risk offenders into the community under criminal justice supervision.

Implementing a first-of-its kind initiative required all justice partners to be fully connected. Systems had to be in place such that data could flow immediately and seamlessly from the booking agency to probation to a judge.

“Every arrest, crime, assessment, and decision needed to be made within a few short hours and had to be tracked for efficiency, review, and reporting by the Judicial Council and California State Office of the Courts,” said Robert Ambroselli, the project consultant who oversaw the new program’s implementation.

The department launched the pretrial component of Tyler Supervision, its existing case management system for adult probation. This immediately notifies the office of an arrest, forwards the specifics of the crime for an officer’s risk assessment, then forwards the findings to a pretrial judge who makes a release or retain determination.

Seamless Exchange, Intake to Release

The integration with the case management system allows the department to digitize documents and append them to case files. The automatic information exchange keeps every case file current from intake to release. This flow of information also provides key criminal justice datapoints for analysis on arrest times, crimes, and release decisions that will inform expansion of these pretrial programs beyond the 16 counties chosen for the pilot.

The collaboration between justice partners through innovative technologies is moving the needle in necessary reform that benefits individuals, courts and their partners, and entire communities. This innovation earned the department a 2020 Tyler Excellence Award. View other Excellence Award winners.

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