Court orders use of Pre-Trial Risk tool to release defendants |

Court orders use of Pre-Trial Risk tool to release defendants

Nevada Supreme Court.
File/AP | AP

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday ordered all state courts to begin using the Pre-Trial Risk assessment tool to determine whether a defendant should be released after arrest.

The unanimous order follows a two-year pilot program in Washoe County, Reno and Sparks, Clark County and Las Vegas as well as White Pine and Douglas counties. That pilot program found that the assessment tool is a valid predictor of whether or not some one will show up if released on their own recognizance.

The order says statewide implementation of the tool “will assist judges in assessing whether a defendant is likely to show up for court and whether the defendant will be a danger to the community if released.”

They said it will also provide more uniformity in how release decisions are made and ensure that those decisions are based on the risk posed by the defendant, “and not by whether the defendant can afford to pay bail.”

The tool scores defendants on such factors as whether they have another pending criminal case, age at first arrest, prior convictions including violent convictions in the past 10 years, how long they have lived in their current residence, substance abuse and employment status. The higher the score, the greater the risk with the lowest level for those with zero to four points and high risk for those above nine points. The order gives courts up to nine months to do the appropriate training for courts and 18 months to fully implement the new process.