Yakima County, Washington

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Recent Activities

Yakima’s Smart Pretrial framework is focused on​ ​​the immediate or early release of eligible arrested people after they have been assessed for pretrial risk and positively identified. In 2016, the Smart Pretrial policy team implemented several new legal and evidence-based practices to advance this goal.

For example, the county now uses the Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s Public Safety Assessment (PSA) tool to assess, within minutes, the risk of all defendants booked into jail. Also, prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys now participate in first appearance hearings to provide judicial officers with additional information, above and beyond that contained in the jurisdiction’s newly adopted pretrial decision-making framework. A newly formed pretrial services agency helps manage released defendants’ risk, applying strategies such as court date reminders and community-based supervision. Additionally, policy team members and other local leaders have access to data on process and outcome measures to more quickly and accurately gauge progress and identify additional opportunities for improvement.

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

  • Approximately 100% of defendants who are booked into jail and for whom a decision to release or detain 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 50% of released defendants receive some form of risk management intervention (e.g., court date reminder only, pretrial supervision) per the decision-making framework.

Yakima County leaders also enjoy an open and transparent relationship with the local community and media. They are always willing to explain how the justice system is working and why they make the various changes during the Smart Pretrial project. For 2017, the team has developed a sustainability plan to continue the practices that are achieving good outcomes and adjust the ones that are underperforming.

Yakima Pretrial System Vision Statement:

The vision of Yakima County is to operate a pretrial system that is safe, fair, and effective and which maximizes public safety, court appearance, and appropriate use of release, supervision, and detention.

   This system change will create a more fundamentally fair criminal justice system and ensure the rights of pretrial defendants are addressed appropriately while mitigating the risk to our community.”

Policy Team

Superior Court Judge

District Court Judge

County Commissioner

Chief Prosecutor

Director of Public Defense

Sheriff

Chief, Union Gap Police

Captain, Yakima Police

Director, Department of Corrections

Superior/District Court Administrator

Manager, District Court