Early Criminal Defense Yields Large Reductions in Pre-Trial Detention

CA Policy Lab logoIn October 2017, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office piloted the Pre-Trial Release Unit (PRU) to enhance access to pre-arraignment legal representation for indigent arrestees. Using data provided by the Office, this brief from the California Policy Lab finds the pilot program doubled the likelihood of release at arraignment–from 14% to 28% for arrestees who received arrest-responsive interventions from the PRU. The intervention is projected to save approximately 11,200 jail bed-days per year at an annual cost of approximately $335,000. Furthermore, the PRU’s efforts to advocate for the dismissal of parole holds reduced pre-trial incarceration by 44%, or an average of 9.5 days, among eligible parolees who were held in custody for violation of their parole orders.

Source: JusticeCenter

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