City & County of Denver, Colorado

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Recent Activities

In late 2016, Denver’s Smart Pretrial policy team completed its sustainability plan, informed by ongoing analyses of the impact of newly implemented practices and collaboration among leaders and staff from multiple agencies across the local justice system. The sustainability plan will ensure that the system modifications listed below—informed by pretrial law, research literature on best practices, and a local cost-benefit analysis—will persist beyond 2017, so Denver residents may continue to benefit from a pretrial system that is safer, fairer, and more effective.

Denver’s newly implemented practices include:

  • Assessment of the risk of all defendants charged with a felony offense prior to their pretrial release from jail;
  • Defense attorney participation in most first appearance hearings;
  • Lower-risk released defendants receive less-intensive or no supervision, while higher-risk defendants are subject to more-intensive supervision and risk management;
  • The pretrial services agency communicates directly with the courts and probation departments regarding pretrial supervision compliance; and
  • Denver now has more reliable data on how pretrial defendants are processed and on their outcomes.

As of late 2016, Denver had made measurable progress toward implementing most of the seven Smart Pretrial key elements:

  • Approximately 100% of felony and municipal domestic violence defendants and 75% of misdemeanor defendants who are booked into jail and for whom a release-or-detention decision will be made, are assessed using an actuarial pretrial risk assessment tool;
  • A prosecutor participates in approximately 100% of first appearance hearings involving misdemeanor and municipal defendants and, in 2017, will be present for all first appearance hearings involving felony defendants;
  • A defense attorney participates in approximately 100% of first appearance hearings involving felony, misdemeanor, and municipal domestic violence defendants;
  • Approximately 100% of pretrial decisions to release or detain are guided by a collaboratively developed decision-making framework that accounts for the defendant’s charge, risk level, and other case factors;
  • Approximately 93% of released defendants receive some form of risk management intervention (e.g., court date reminder only, pretrial supervision) per the decision-making framework;
  • In approximately 40% of cases where a defendant on pretrial supervision is later sentenced, information about their performance on release is communicated to the sentencing court and other relevant parties.

In 2017, Denver’s team will work on solidifying new policies and training practitioners so the new practices can be sustained well into the future and so Denver can serve as a model for pretrial best practices in Colorado and nationwide.

  After learning more about evidence-based practices, and Smart Pretrial practices, I've come to realize I've been doing everything wrong for a lot of years.”
Martin Egelhoff Denver District Court Criminal Presiding Judge

Denver's Pretrial System Vision Statement:

Pretrial decisions are equitable, fiscally responsible, and data-informed; they recognize the presumption of release and reasonably ensure appearance in court with a commitment to public safety.

Guiding Principles:

  1. Release and detain decisions for all defendants should be risk-based, individualized, and consider the safety and needs of the community. Release decisions shall be informed by an empirical pretrial risk assessment.
  2. Pretrial processes shall maintain the presumption of release, equality, justice, and due process.
  3. Pretrial risk can be lessened for some risk levels with the use of appropriate pretrial supervision conditions.
  4. Pretrial system decisions should be research-based and evaluated based on continuing data outcome evaluation.
  5. The collaboration of the stakeholders in the pretrial justice process is essential to establish system best practices.

 

  In Denver we are committed to the fair and equitable release of the accused awaiting trial. In doing so, we are mindful of the necessity to account for public safety and the responsibility of released individuals to return to court. As such, Smart Pretrial has provided a formal structure to bring the interested stakeholders to the table to map our system, determine gaps therein and develop solutions which are directing us to move away from release premised primarily on money and to begin to focus more on risk assessment. Integrated into the reforms are the constant emphasis on the needs of the accused, the views of the community and the rights of victims.”
John Marcucci Denver County Court Presiding Judge and Smart Pretrial Policy Team Chairperson

Denver’s Smart Pretrial Policy Team

Denver County Court

Denver District Court

Denver Sheriff’s Department

Denver Police Department

Denver District Attorney’s Office

Denver City Attorney’s Office

Colorado State Public Defender’s Office

City and County of Denver Public Defender’s Office

Denver Community Corrections-Pretrial Services Division

Department of Public Safety

Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission

Private Defense Counsel

  Smart Pretrial Denver has provided the right framework to ensure we have a state-of- the-art, efficient and comprehensive pretrial system in Denver. Our diverse team, comprised of city and state stakeholders, are doing a tremendous job finding common ground and ensuring a thoughtful process with outcomes we can all live with.”
Regina Huerter Crime Prevention and Control Commission