Factsheet: Identifying and Addressing Pretrial Needs


Executive Summary

Through the investigation of four critical questions, this fact sheet summarizes the existing research regarding the needs of people going through the pretrial process, including their commonly identified needs, how their needs differ across subgroups, and the role of the pretrial system in addressing these needs. In addition, this fact sheet identifies salient gaps in knowledge and outlines new directions for the pretrial field.

Fact Sheet Questions

  1. How is the pretrial population defined, and what is the general make-up of people going through the pretrial system?
  2. What are the dynamic needs of people going through the pretrial process?
  3. What are the best practices for identifying and addressing the needs of the pretrial population?
  4. What are additional unanswered questions or future directions for the pretrial field?

Below are some key takeaways from the fact sheet:

  • Currently, there is no standard definition of the pretrial population across jurisdictions, and limited statistics available regarding the demographic make-up and distinct needs of this group.
  • Based on the statistics that are available, people impacted by the pretrial system experience significantly higher rates of health, social, and economic issues than the general population. These include, but are not limited to, mental health, trauma and victimization, substance use, and homelessness.
  • There are promising pretrial initiatives across the country that aim to identify and address unmet needs, such as pre-arraignment screenings and assessments, court helplines, and referrals to supportive services.
  • More research is needed in the pretrial field to identify and address needs, as well as to understand how treating these needs may impact pretrial outcomes.

Further research and understanding on pretrial needs may help strengthen existing interventions, improve pretrial outcomes, reduce unnecessary pretrial detention, and support community well-being.

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