Providing Positive Opportunities for Court-Involved Individuals
Established in January 2006, the purpose of Durham County’s Pretrial Services is to create a systematic approach for recommending release and community supervision for defendants who do not pose a risk to the community as they await trial. The overall goal of the program is to relieve jail crowding and to ensure that defendants return to court for disposition.
Pretrial Services strives to provide complete and accurate information to judges, improve the release and detention decision, actively supervise pretrial defendants and ensure that agency mandated conditions and court ordered requirements are satisfied, and maintain the integrity of the judicial process while promoting public safety. Durham County Pretrial Services focuses on three components: First Appearance and Pretrial Release and Supervision.
Prior to first appearance court pretrial staff prepare a summary sheet that provides the court with a criminal history of all defendants that are present for first appearance. Pretrial Services also worked with an Advisory Board to comprise a list of charge types of which pretrial staff will collect additional information from certain inmates that may need to be further considered for release. With these charges as a guide Pretrial Staff work at the Durham County Detention Center screening inmates with those charge eligible offenses, prior to first appearance, identifying inmates potentially eligible for pretrial release. The interview collects information for three purposes: (1) to assess the defendant’s risk of pretrial misconduct, (2) to provide the court with additional stability factors, community ties, as well as mental health or substance abuse problems and lastly, (3) to complete a Risk Assessment that suggests the recommended supervision level if released onto pretrial supervision. This process provides the presiding judge with as much information as possible at the first appearance hearing when detention issues and bond amounts are reviewed.
Pretrial Release and Supervision
Pretrial Supervision includes office and/or field contacts as deemed appropriate and referrals for services on an individual basis or as ordered by the court. The supervision level is based on the suggested risk level on the risk assessment and conditions imposed by the court. Risk Assessments are prepared for all defendants released onto Pretrial Supervision to provide an unbiased and objective manner in which to set supervision contacts and is completed using the criminal history information, community ties, and the mental health or substance abuse problems identified during first appearance screening.
One essential component of pretrial supervision is an electronic monitoring module for a small number of identified criminal defendants released from the Durham County Detention Center as an alternative to incarceration pretrial. Offenders are assigned to electronic monitoring by a judge and the length of electronic monitoring may last until case disposition or until the court has determined the defendant has exhibited compliance with court orders and demonstrated to the court that they pose a lower risk to the community.
For additional information on Pretrial Services, please contact:
Christie Long, Pretrial Program Supervisor
Phone (919) 560-0512
Fax (919) 328-6249
510 S. Dillard St, 4th Floor Suite 4100, Durham, NC 27701