Hello ANC Commissioner:
I’m leading a community outreach initiative at the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia (PSA). As key stakeholders in the District’s criminal justice system, we want to ensure that all DC residents know who we are and what we do and have an opportunity to ask us any questions or share concerns. Given your unique role in the community, we are reaching out to you in hopes of partnering to achieve this goal. The purpose of this email is to give a brief overview of PSA’s role and function, provide informational materials to share with your constituents, and let you know we are available to present at one of your community meetings, if you find this to be useful.
PSA is a federal executive branch agency that has served the Nation’s Capital for over 50 years. We help the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by interviewing and assessing arrested persons and making release recommendations that are used at a person’s initial appearance in court. When persons awaiting trial are released to the community, we supervise them with a range of supervision options that ensure they return to court and remain arrest-free. We do this without the use of money bail, which makes us different than most jurisdictions across the country. In DC, nearly 95% of all defendants awaiting trial are released to the community and nearly 90% of them make all scheduled court appearances and remain arrest-free.
Our mission is to promote pretrial justice and enhance community safety. Consistent with this mission, each day we strive to strike the appropriate balance between individual liberties and public safety. At a high-level, our process is as follows:
After a person is arrested and the prosecutor decides to move forward with the case, we begin our process of gathering information. We are a neutral fact-finder, meaning we do not work for the prosecutor or the defense and we do not ask defendants for facts about the incident that led to the arrest.
We conduct cellblock interviews with all adult arrestees to gather sociodemographic, substance use and mental health information, use local and national databases to get criminal history and obtain a drug testing sample.
All of this information informs our risk assessment tool, which generates two scores – how likely the individual is to be rearrested and how likely the individual is to fail to appear in court.
Next, we review the law to determine whether a person is eligible to be detained in DC Jail while awaiting trial.
The risk assessment scores, the information obtained during the interview process and detention eligibility are then used by PSA to develop recommendations for release conditions if the defendant is released to the community while awaiting trial.
The recommended release conditions, if any, are provided to the court and used by the judge to make a release decision.
For defendants who are released to the community pending trial with release conditions imposed by the Court, PSA provides supervision and treatment services intended to reasonably assure they return to court and remain arrest-free pending their trial or sentencing.
The links below are to informational documents you can share via email with your constituents.
Please visit the Agency’s website (www.psa.gov) for additional information. If you’re interested in having us present at one of your meetings, we’ll be glad to arrange this. If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.
Pamela E Brown
Advisor to the Office of Justice and Community Relations/
Supervisory Pretrial Services Officer
Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia
500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room C-210-220
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 585-7081 (O)
(202) 527-1002 (C)