Implement a pretrial risk assessment for bond setting to be more risk-based and less dependent upon the financial circumstances of defendants.
By law, a judge must set bond for defendants within 24 hours of arrest (30 days for certain serious and repeat violent offenses). Each arrested person has a right to an individualized decision made by a judge about the terms of their release, as pretrial detention is only to be used when other reasonable safeguards cannot assure court appearance or protect the community from harm. South Carolina strictly limits the cases in which bond can be denied. For more information on the law please see the South Carolina Constitution, Article 1, § 15 and S.C. Code Ann. § 17-15-10. Historically, judges have had limited information to assist in their decision- making, including a review of criminal history, nature of the offense, and statements made by prosecution and/or defense.
This particular strategy provides bond-setting judges additional information to assist with this critical, time-sensitive decision. Skilled, pretrial analysts produce a Pretrial Services Report (PSR) for the bond court following an extensive review of criminal history across multiple sources to compile information on convictions and pending charges.
The Pretrial Services Report is a two-page form of information that summarizes core information about an individual defendant and provides the results of the pretrial risk assessment. The Pretrial Services Report is used to better inform bond-setting judges and provide a consistent, objective and reliable way to assess for risk of rearrests and/or missing court during the pretrial period.
The Pretrial Services Report is not the sole factor used in making these decisions. Judges consider all factors required by law, information provided by the state and defense during the bond hearing, and the Pretrial Services Report prior to rendering a decision appropriate to each individual case. Pretrial Service Reports are delivered to centralized bond court prior to each hearing. Counsel at bond court can obtain a copy of their client’s Pretrial Service Report by inquiring at the court’s window.