Friday, December 20, 2013

Research on pretrial detention, sentencing and recidivism

This research brief (pdf) from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation summarizes research on pretrial detention and included a number of important findings. For example:
A study, using data from state courts, found that defendants who were detained for the entire pretrial period were over four times more likely to be sentenced to jail and over three times more likely to be sentenced to prison than defendants who were released at some point pending trial. And their sentences were significantly longer – almost three times as long for defendants sentenced to jail, and more than twice as long for those sentenced to prison.
On recidivism, "pretrial detention is associated with long-term recidivism, particularly for low-risk defendants." According to the brief:
what if, rather than protecting society, the pretrial phase of the system is actually helping to create new repeat offenders?

That is the question raised by an LJAF-funded study that analyzed data on over 153,000 defendants booked into jail in Kentucky in 2009 and 2010. The analysis showed that low-risk defendants who were detained pretrial for more than 24 hours were more likely to commit new crimes not only while their cases were pending, but also years later. In addition, they were more likely to miss their day in court. Conversely, for high-risk defendants, there was no relationship between pretrial incarceration and increased crime. This suggests that high-risk defendants can be detained before trial without compromising, and in fact enhancing, public safety and the fair administration of justice.
Those are just highlights that jumped out at me. The whole thing (pdf) is well worth a read. 


Anonymous said...

Something is creating repeat offenders. It can't be the offenders doing it.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

8:24, the studies are comparing RATES of re-offense among different categories of offenders. Don't be obtuse.

Anonymous said...

Am I being too demanding in expecting these "studies" to be more in-depth than they are? Correlation is all fine and well but it doesn't solve any issues. For instance, if you have a low level offender, it's more LIKELY they will get out sooner. The longer they stay in is indicative of more than them being "low level." That is, if one guy stays in 12 hrs, he's likely to have no crim history and charged with low level offense. The others stay in longer because they have some rap sheets or "higher level" offenses ($50 theft vs $500 are still both considered low level) thus not making them as "low level" as the other guy. .....or they have less money to get out as soon as the other guy.
Point being, I don't like studies that don't dive deep into the simple correlation between things. Does letting low level offenders out sooner make them less likely to reoffend or are they just not getting caught as often as we would like? Seriously, lots of questions from this.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

This was a research brief summarizing the results of multiple studies. Check the footnotes in the document and track down the sources for more detail.

R.S. Gates said...

There is a less than 2% chance the people in the position to make decisions will read this report. The McLennan County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee was lauded as a proactive step to address overcrowding and last check they had never had a meeting is much easier to have the media publish a glowing story about how much they "care" and their struggles to address the issue than to actually do something. Thanks Grits for staying on top of this.

Anonymous said...

If this research is based on information or "data" from prosecutors offices you can bet it is just plain old bullshit.