Iowa county pilots pretrial tool for jail release

Judges in central Iowa are using a new pretrial risk assessment tool to reduce bias and inequality when releasing individuals or setting bonds after an arrest.

The Des Moines Register reports that Polk County officials began using the new assessment system last week to try decreasing the number of individuals awaiting trial in jail. The tool scores each person based on factors that help determine whether they’re likely to commit another crime or appear at their court date.

Advocates say the assessment reduces bias by not considering factors like race or gender. Advocates also argue that it will treat low-income people more fairly in a cash bail system where many are stuck in jail because they can’t afford to pay.

Three other Iowa counties are piloting the program, which may expand to a statewide initiative.


Information from: The Des Moines Register,