Courts To Test Analytical System For Pre-Trial Release

March 03, 2014

Arizona Supreme Court
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch

Five courts around the state will be trying out a new system to help judges decide whether it’s safe to release a criminal defendant prior to a trial. 

The system scores defendants based largely on their criminal history, analyzing nine factors that are considered the strongest predictors of risk. It then produces a statistical analysis of the likelihood a defendant will commit a new crime or fail to appear for a court hearing.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which developed the Public Safety Assessment or PSA-Court, announced last week that it’ll be used in the Gila, Mohave, Pinal and Yuma County Superior Courts and the Mesa Municipal Court. The PSA-Court is already being used statewide in Kentucky.

Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch says defendants who are threats to public safety should remain behind bars, while those who are not should not be held in jail just because they can’t afford to post bail.       

The Supreme Court says scores generated by the PSA-Court, along with a judge’s knowledge of the facts, will help guide decisions about release, detention and supervision in the pre-trial phase of a case.