Smarter Pretrial for Local Reform

Smart Pretrial

Changes to pretrial justice have the most immediate impact in local courts—and every court has a distinct character and way of operating.

Smarter Pretrial is the pathway PJI developed to support local stakeholders—including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, public defenders, victim and community advocates, and public health officials—to change pretrial operations in counties, cities, towns, and parishes. It creates a learning environment that guides participants through a structured process that identifies areas for improvement, creates a plan of action, and helps jurisdictions to implement the plan, with an emphasis on creating lasting change.


Smarter Pretrial focuses on three overall outcomes that are based on legal obligations and national best practices—what we call “the three Ms”:

  • Maximizing liberty
  • Maximizing court appearance
  • Maximizing public safety

The model can be adapted for targeted efforts, such as reducing racial and ethnic disparities, creating a graduated response for technical violations, or enhancing procedural justice and transparency.

Smarter Pretrial is the next generation of Smart Pretrial, a demonstration initiative funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

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To learn more about Smarter Pretrial and local technical support, contact

More Information

University of Pretrial
  • Richard H. Bartheld
    Prior to the adoption of our pretrial program, we were releasing about 53% of the accused pretrial. We’re now releasing 73% of those individuals. We found there was no statistically significant difference in public safety rates or in court appearances.
    Richard H. Bartheld
    Yakima County Superior Court Judge
  • Kate Parker West
    When there’s a real commitment from multiple stakeholders, all working together for a common certainly provides an opportunity for really great things.
    Kate Parker West
    Delaware Local Site Coordinator
  • Greg Mauro
    Smart Pretrial reinforced that criminal justice reform is possible  when stakeholders collaborate and align towards a shared vision of system improvement.
    Greg Mauro
    Director of Community Corrections, Denver, Colorado