Reducing Crime and Unnecessary Detention: Kentucky’s Success with the New Public Safety Assessment – Court Tool

On July 9, 2014, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (Arnold Foundation) released the results from the first six months of the implementation of the Public Safety Assessment – Court (PSA-Court) tool in Kentucky. PSA-Court is a new data driven risk assessment tool developed by the Arnold Foundation to help inform judicial decisions about which defendants can most safely be released before trial, and which defendants should be detained because of the risks they pose to public safety. Since Kentucky started using the PSA-Court, crime by defendants on pretrial release has declined by 15% while the overall number of defendants released pretrial has increased by 70%.

The PSA-Court instrument predicts the likelihood that a defendant will commit any new crime during the pretrial period. In particular, one of the unique features of the PSA-Court is the ability to identify those individuals who are at a higher risk of committing a violent act if released. “Defendants flagged by the PSA-Court as being at an increased risk of violence are rearrested for violent acts at a rate 17 times that of defendants who are not flagged” according to the report.

With the use of the PSA-Court, Kentucky judges are helping to make officers and the community safe while ensuring that Kentucky is using its resources in the most effective way. To see all of the data from the first six months of implementation, please visit IACP is very pleased and supportive of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation’s findings. Research like this accomplishes two critical objectives, one is it moves our understanding of pretrial program performances from anecdotes to analytics, and two it gives practitioners outcome and impact data that can inform policy improvement considerations. IACP is a leader in pretrial reform through our Champions Group, presentations to state agencies, and many other outreach opportunities. To learn more about IACP’s pretrial reform efforts, visit the Pretrial Justice Reform webpage at


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