Pretrial release refers to the conditions of release from custody to which defendants must adhere during the time period between the filing of charges by law enforcement and court adjudication. After arrest charges are filed, the courts will decide whether a defendant can be released pending trial and other court proceedings. If a defendant is released pretrial, the courts may issue stipulations on that release that fall along a spectrum of least to most restrictive, often driven by the severity of the charges filed and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Conditions of pretrial release can include—
- release on personal recognizance
- payment of cash bail
- securing surety or property bonds
- a requirement to submit to electronic monitoring
- pretrial supervision.
Jurisdictions vary in their approaches to pretrial release with some relying on bail schedules and others using a more individualized approach.
BJS will update and expand on previous efforts to collect data on pretrial release through the National Pretrial Reporting Program (NPRP), currently under development. The NPRP will collect data on defendants charged with felonies and gather defendant-level data that examine arrests through case adjudication. In comparison to its predecessor, the State Court Processing Statistics Program (SCPS), the NPRP’s revised, broader scope allows for a more robust representation of current pretrial release decisions and outcomes in the U.S.