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Pretrial Services - Judicial Business 2017

The number of cases opened in the pretrial services system, including pretrial diversion cases, equaled 88,750, a decrease of 3 percent from 2016.

In 35 percent of the cases opened, the major offense was related to immigration, down from 38 percent in 2016. Cases in which the major offense charged involved drugs accounted for 28 percent of pretrial services cases (up from 27 percent). Cases associated with property offenses represented 11 percent (down from 12 percent) and cases dealing with firearms offenses represented 10 percent (up from 8 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 2017, officers prepared 85,101 pretrial services reports (down 4 percent). Ninety-seven percent of the reports were pre-bail reports.

Table 9
Summary of Pretrial Services Cases
Fiscal Years 2013 - 2017
  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Percent Change
2016 - 2017
Total Cases Activated 108,705 100,068 95,013 91,709 88,750 -3.2
Pretrial Services Cases 108,002 99,355 94,276 91,111 88,255 -3.1
Pretrial Diversion Cases 703 713 737 598 495 -17.2
Total Released on Supervision 28,664 25,209 24,547 23,592 23,186 -1.7
Pretrial Supervision 27,612 24,185 23,522 22,735 22,469 -1.2
Diversion Supervision 1,052 1,024 1,025 857 717 -16.3
Type of Report            
Pre-Bail 101,709 93,598 88,980 85,988 82,447 -4.1
Other Reports (Including Post-Bail) 2,853 2,552 2,390 2,260 2,654 17.4
No Report 3,440 3,205 2,906 2,863 3,154 10.2

A total of 80,626 bail determinations were made by the courts. Including immigration cases involving crimes such as illegal reentry, 28 percent of all defendants were released on bail. When immigration cases are excluded, the percentage of defendants released was 40 percent.

A total of 23,186 defendants were received for supervision by pretrial services (down 2 percent). The proportion of defendants 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 2017, 41 percent of defendants in pretrial services cases were 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 25,576 defendants were released with specified conditions in 2017. The release condition ordered most often was pretrial services supervision, which was imposed on 88 percent of defendants released, down 1 percent from last year.

Substance abuse treatment and testing were ordered for 41 percent of defendants (up 2 percent). Substance abuse testing alone (without treatment) was ordered for 13 percent of defendants, down 1 percent from 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 2017, the number of pretrial diversion cases activated decreased 17 percent to 495 and accounted for less than 1 percent of activated cases.

Over the past five years, the number of pretrial services reports prepared has fallen 19 percent, and the number of persons interviewed has decreased 14 percent to 50,193 (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 usually is written).

For data on pretrial services activity, see Table 9 and the H series of tables.