The Supreme Court of Nevada Judicial Council has formed a committee to study evidence-based pretrial release and the committee is moving forward with collecting data on how the system might work in Nevada. According to many members of the committee, the current pretrial release system is a "seat of your pants" decision for most judges or requires payment of bail by an accused, who many times cannot afford it.
"For too long Nevada judges have had to make pretrial release judgments based on anecdotal information about the accused or payment of bail from schedules that vary from county to county and crime to crime," said Chief Justice James W. Hardesty, who chairs the committee. "A number of federal cases around the country have called into question pretrial releases based on financial conditions and extensive research shows that better pretrial release decisions are made when they are based on a validated risk assessment instrument."
The committee was asked to study the current pretrial release system. The committee will examine alternatives and improvements to that system through evidence-based practices and current risk assessment tools. The committee meets again November 5, 2015. In the meantime, members will look at three areas:
- Formulating an assessment tool
- Determining how to include all of Nevada’s eleven judicial districts
- Examining how to share information with various agencies involved in the judicial system
Knowing the risk of an accused suspect will allow judges to make a sound decision based on the risk rather than the ability to pay, according to Chief Justice Hardesty, and the committee’s work will enable Nevada to do a better job of making pretrial release rulings.