Pretrial Services - Judicial Business 2015
The number of cases opened in the pretrial services system, including pretrial diversion cases, equaled 95,013, a decrease of 5 percent from 2014.
In 40 percent of the cases opened, the major offense was related to immigration, down from 42 percent in 2014. Cases in which the major offense charged involved drugs accounted for 27 percent of pretrial services cases (up from 26 percent). Cases associated with property offenses represented 12 percent (down from 13 percent), and cases dealing with firearms offenses represented 8 percent (up from 7 percent).
Pretrial services officers prepare reports for judges to use in determining whether to order the release or detention of defendants. The reports also give judges information useful for establishing appropriate conditions for released defendants. In 2015, officers prepared 91,370 pretrial services reports (down 5 percent). Ninety-four percent of the reports were pre-bail reports.
A total of 86,659 bail determinations were made by the courts. Including immigration cases involving crimes such as illegal reentry, 27 percent of all defendants were released on bail. When immigration cases are excluded, the percentage of defendants released was 43 percent.
A total of 24,547 defendants were received for supervision by pretrial services (down 3 percent). The proportion of defendants considered to be in the country illegally continued to affect the number of persons received for supervision, because illegal aliens and defendants charged with immigration offenses are more likely to be detained given their higher risk of failure to appear in court. In 2015, 45 percent of defendants in pretrial services cases were alleged to be illegal aliens.
For persons under pretrial services supervision, officers monitor compliance with the release conditions set by the courts, provide necessary support services (such as substance abuse treatment and location monitoring), and inform the courts and U.S. attorneys of apparent violations of release conditions. A total of 26,578 defendants were released with specified conditions in 2015. The release condition ordered most often was pretrial services supervision, which was imposed on 89 percent of defendants released, up 1 percent from last year.
Substance abuse treatment and testing were ordered for 38 percent of defendants (up 2 percent from last year). Substance abuse testing alone (without treatment) was ordered for 15 percent of defendants, the same as the previous year.
Pretrial diversion is a period of supervision proposed by a U.S. attorney and agreed to by a defendant as an alternative to the prosecution of criminal charges in federal court. Diversion preserves prosecutorial and judicial resources for more serious criminal matters. In 2015, the number of pretrial diversion cases activated increased more than 3 percent to 737 and accounted for less than 1 percent of activated cases.
Over the past five years, the number of pretrial services reports prepared has fallen 17 percent, and the number of persons interviewed has also decreased 17 percent to 50,537 (not all defendants are interviewed—defendants may decline to be interviewed, and sometimes interviews are not possible—but for each defendant, a pretrial services report is usually written).