NACDL on Risk Assessment Instruments
Recognizing the important role impacted community and local criminal defense stakeholders play in identifying the needs and best resources to create a fairer system of pretrial justice, NACDL, along with NLADA, the ACCD, Gideon's Promise, and NAPD issued a Joint Statement on Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments, Updated March 2019, which highlights these concerns and provides a set of checks and balances which should be utilized to reduce unnecessary detention and help eliminate racial and ethnic bias in the outcomes of pretrial decisions.
Making Sense of Pretrial Risk Assessments, Brandon Buskey and Andrea Woods, June 2018
The Siren Song of Objectivity: Risk Assessment Tools and Racial Disparity, Rick Jones, April 2018
Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments
Learn about some of the risk assessment instruments currently in use, including Stanford Law School's Policy Lab's Fact Sheets, User Manuals, and Validation and Revalidation Studies.
- Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool
- Indiana Risk Assessment System
- Ohio Risk Assessment System
- Pretrial Risk Assessment
- Public Safety Assessment
- Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument
- Additional Resources
Implemented in 2012, the CPAT is currently undergoing a re-validation study due to be completed in 2020.
Developed from the ORAS, used in Indiana courts as part of a pilot project
Latessa, E., Smith, P., Lemke, R., Makarios, M., & Lowenkamp, C. (2009). Creation and validation of the Ohio Risk Assessment System: Final report.
Implemented as a pilot in 2009, the tool was implemented in all 93 federal districts in 2011. A re-validation study was completed in 2018.
Cohen, T., Lowenkamp C., Hicks, W. (2018). Revalidating the Federal Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (PTRA): A Research Summary.
Cadigan, T., & Lowenkamp, C. (2011). Implementing risk assessment in the federal pretrial services system.
Lowenkamp, C., & Whetzel, J. (2009). The development of an actuarial risk assessment instrument for U.S. Pretrial Services.
VanNostrand, Keebler (2009), Pretrial Risk Assessments in the Federal Court
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Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
Developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the PSA is used in approximately 30 jurisdictions, including Arizona, Harris County, Kentucky, and New Jersey.
RTI International (2018) The Public Safety Assessment: A Re-Validation and Assessment of Predictive Utility and Differential Prediction by Race and Gender in Kentucky
Milgram, A., Holsinger, A., VanNostrand, M., & Alsdorf, M. (2015). Pretrial risk assessment: Improving public safety and fairness in pretrial decision-making.
Laura and John Arnold Foundation (2014). Results from the first six months of the Public Safety Assessment-Court in Kentucky.
Laura and John Arnold Foundation (2013). Developing a national model for pretrial risk assessment
Kennedy, S., House, L., & Williams, M. (2013). Using research to improve pretrial justice and public safety: Results from PSA’s risk assessment validation project.
VanNostrand, M., & Lowenkamp, C. (2013). Assessing pretrial risk without a defendant interview
Used in Virginia and in California
VanNostrand, M., & Rose, K. (2009). Pretrial risk assessment in Virginia: The Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument.
Danner, M., VanNostrand, M., & Spruance, L. (2016). Race and Gender Neutral Pretrial Risk Assessment, Release Recommendations, and Supervision: VPRAI and Praxis Revised.
Danner, M., VanNostrand, M., & Spruance, L. (2015). Risk-based pretrial release recommendation and supervision guidelines: Exploring the effect on officer recommendations, judicial decision-making, and pretrial outcome.
A Primer on Risk Assessment Instruments for Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys, Safety + Justice Challenge, MacArthur Foundation (2019)
About Risk Assessments, Pretrial Justice Center for Courts
Q&A Profile Based Risk Assessment for US Pretrial Incarceration, Human Rights Watch (2018)
Risk Assessment Articles, The Marshall Project
Risk Assessments Explained, The Appeal
The Use of Pretrial "Risk Assessment Instruments," A Shared Statemetn of Civil Rights Concerns, The Leadership Conference