Suppose I told you that we could categorize defendants into six categories for risk of failure to appear (FTA) in court as required, with 1 being the lowest risk category and 6 being the highest. What is your guess as to the percentage of defendants who appear in court as required at risk level 1? At risk level 6? When I ask this question of North Carolina stakeholders, most guess that the percentage of defendants who appear in court at risk level 1 is about 50% and that the percentage who appear at risk level 6 is about 20%. They are wrong. Risk assessment validation done in North Carolina shows that 87.4% of risk level 1 defendants appear in court as required and that 61.2% of risk level 6 defendants do so. In fact, that validation shows that at all risk levels, a majority of defendants appear in court as required.
In this post, part of a series on bail reform in North Carolina, I highlight reforms that have been implemented in Orange County, North Carolina. My goal in doing so is to provide models and points of contact for jurisdictions interested in these efforts. If you’d like your jurisdiction’s work highlighted here, please reach out to me.
Risk assessment tools are starting to take root in the criminal justice system. They’re used to make decisions about pretrial release, sentencing, and the level of supervision or custody to which a defendant will be subject. Some of the results are encouraging. For example, Mecklenburg County uses a risk assessment developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to help make pretrial release decisions. The pretrial services office there reports that the risk assessment has contributed to “transformational change” in how pretrial justice is administered, with fewer secured bonds being imposed the jail population falling with no harm to public safety. Based in part on Mecklenburg’s success, the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice encouraged the creation of a pilot project that would “implement and assess more broadly . . . an empirically derived pretrial risk assessment tool.”
The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission and the Division of Adult Correction recently released their Correctional Program Evaluation: Offenders Placed on Probation or Released from Prison in FY 2013—known better as the recidivism report. Every biennial report is interesting—who wouldn’t want to know how present sentencing choices affect future crime?—but this report is especially interesting because it is the first one to include a sizable number of defendants sentenced and supervised after Justice Reinvestment. We can begin to see if the law is working as intended.
Last week I wrote about State v. Clark and State v. Brown, the latest cases from the court of appeals on what qualifies as an aggravated offense at a satellite-based monitoring (SBM) determination hearing. You can read that post here. To sum it up, under a line of cases summarized in Clark, first- and second-degree … Read more
by School of Government faculty member Jamie Markham There are two categories of sex offenders subject to satellite-based monitoring: those subject to lifetime monitoring, and those subject to monitoring for a period of time specified by the court. For an offender to fall within the latter category (called “conditional” monitoring by DCC), the court must … Read more