Bail algorithm

Dallas County may change the way it calculates cash amount needed for bail. Wit all other news across the industry pointing at possible changes, it is important to notate how it may possibly work out for everybody. 

What the most new systems may apply is a combination of technology and analysis in order to process a risk assessment. The new approach may help judges apply cash bail amounts based on data available. 

Here’s more info on it, directly from Dallas Morning News and the PSA project.

Under the cash bail system, arrestees can secure their release by paying a certain amount of money set by a judge. The money, which arrestees either put up themselves or through a bail bond agent, serves as a promise they’ll show up on their court dates.

In Dallas County, judges routinely rely on a fixed schedule to set bail based on the severity of the offense. For example, the schedule recommends a $1,500 bond for burglary of a vehicle. For felonies, suggested amounts go up if the suspect has previous convictions.

Dallas County officials plan to adopt the Public Safety Assessment, or PSA, developed by the Houston-based nonprofit Laura and John Arnold Foundation and offered for free. The tool takes into account nine factors, including age at the time of the arrest, prior convictions and pending charges.

The PSA examines nine factors based on a person’s age, current charge, and criminal history to produce two risk scores: one that predicts risk of failure to appear for future court appearances, and a second that predicts risk of committing a new crime if released before trial. The PSA calculates its scores on a scale of one to six, with higher scores indicating a higher level of risk. The risk assessment also indicates an elevated risk of committing a new violent crime. The release decision always rests with the judge, but the PSA results can help inform the judge’s decision making.

Risk assessments such as the PSA are used to inform the release decision, when judges must weigh whether to release or detain someone who has been charged with an offense before trial. To improve the whole pretrial decision making process—from the first encounter to case disposition—jurisdictions can consider a broad set of pretrial reforms beyond the use of risk assessments. It is through system-wide reforms such as these, and broad local discussions about pretrial justice, that real change is achieved.

Officials plug in the data and get two scores that measure the risk of failure to appear in court and the risk of committing a crime if freed. The program separately flags suspects who pose an elevated risk of violence.

It is really difficult to predict the success of this system but the adoption of the system is ongoing. 

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