Public Safety Assessment (PSA) Information

Letter from: Virginia Bersch
Director of Criminal Justice
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3 Columbus Circle, Suite 1601
New York, NY 10019
212.430.3627

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are excited to announce the launch of the first Public Safety Assessment (PSA) website, www.psapretrial.org, which offers interested jurisdictions a robust array of resources to support implementation of the PSA. The resources have been carefully developed in partnership with technical assistance providers, current PSA jurisdiction leaders, and other valued stakeholders; they capture and distill the Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s (LJAF) years of experience helping local jurisdictions implement risk assessment.

On the website, you will find implementation guides that walk jurisdictions through site training, change management, and research and testing details; summaries of research to date; and information about the features, purpose, and history of the PSA. We are also pleased to offer a growing Help Desk function for registered users.

We fully expect the site to evolve in the weeks and months to come. Because you are our partners in pretrial reform, we are particularly eager to hear from you about any improvements we can make to this new resource.

Please feel free share the link with anyone you think may be interested. Visitors can share their questions and feedback by clicking “Contact” at the bottom of every page.

It is our hope that the PSA website can play an important role by serving as a place of connection for communities implementing the PSA, a place for scholars and practitioners to share the latest research and best practices around risk assessment, and a place where the public can come to learn about the importance of pretrial reform.

We have witnessed, and deeply appreciate, the field’s hunger for the resources that are now available through the PSA website. However, we have two requests of any jurisdiction considering implementation: First, that local stakeholders carefully assess their jurisdiction’s readiness to implement the PSA before beginning. In our experience, attempting to launch a risk assessment without having the necessary infrastructure and capacity is not a recipe for success. Second, we request that jurisdictions follow the processes and procedures outlined in the resources. This will help to maximize the PSA’s ability to provide judges with relevant and reliable information.

LJAF is particularly excited to introduce this website at a moment when the pretrial justice field is experiencing landmark progress. Lawmakers around the country, encouraged by calls for reform from judges, prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement, and advocacy groups, are enacting new policies and practices that address many of the ills of the current system. State legislatures are crafting legislation on the use of money bail, pretrial monitoring and supervision options, and speedy trial provisions. Police, prosecutors, and public defenders are asking tough questions about how lower-level crimes are enforced and charged and weighing potential alternatives. Advocacy groups are raising important questions regarding potential racial bias and racial disparities in the use of risk assessments.

We have an incredible window of opportunity to accomplish great progress. We are grateful for your collaboration and excited to work together to infuse the field with learning and evidence about pretrial risk assessment.

Sincerely,
LJAF Criminal Justice Initiative

Virginia Bersch
Director of Criminal Justice
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
3 Columbus Circle, Suite 1601
New York, NY 10019
212.430.3627

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