Pretrial Release Initiative

As part of the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Strategic Plan, the Minnesota Judicial Council has launched a Pretrial Release Initiative aimed at studying evidence-based tools for use by judges making pretrial release decisions. 

Under Minn. Stat. § 629.74 Minnesota Judicial Coucil approves pretrial evaluation forms to be used in each county.  Minnesota Judicial Council policy 524: Pretrial Release Evaluation, adopts the use of a statewide pretrial evaluation form and Minnesota Pretrial Assessment Tool (MNPAT) and directs the use of pretrial risk assessment tools in Minnesota District Courts. 

The assessment tool is meant to ensure that judges have the most predictive and least biased information, providing accurate, objective, and useful information for pretrial release decisions.

The assessment tools will be validated to ensure effectiveness and fairness in release decisions.

The Minnesota Judicial Council has established the Pretrial Release Initiative Implementation Steering Committee to implement the new statewide pretrial risk assessment tool and form. The Steering Committee is made up of public and private attorneys, probation representatives and law enforcement, court administration, and judges.

 



This page provides updates on the rollout and maintenance of the Minnesota Pretrial Evaluation Form and Assessment Tool (MNPAT). 

In December 2018, modifications were made to MNPAT resources found on the Resources tab.  Specifically, the MNPAT User Guide, Main Charge Scoring Guide, Offenses Requiring an Pretrial Evaluation, and Person-related Convictions List have been updated. 

The following were updates to the Pretrial User Guide in the 12/11/18 update:
 
  1. A new section titled “Updating the CSTS Pretrial Module” was added to clarify what information needs to be added to the module. This includes information that may be added to the form during or before the hearing (e.g. main charged offense, case number, etc.).
  2. The criminal history section added a bullet indicating that all juvenile adjudications (except EJJ) should not be scored or listed. This was moved out of the table to be clear this direction applies to all criminal conviction history.
  3. A sentence was added to the No Modification to the MNPAT section clarifying that narrative information, including description why a field is scored, should not be included on the MNPAT.
  4. The “Bench Warrants – Fail to Appear at a Hearing” section was updated to clarify what FTA bench warrants should be counted:
    1. Issued Active/Served FTA bench warrants should be counted
    2. Do not count FTA warrants that are issued as a result of a missed initial hearing from a summons.
    3. Do not count FTA warrants if the defendant failed to appear as a result of being held in custody in anther jurisdiction, including ICE custody.
  5. The “Refused/Unknown Fields” section was updated with direction to not include information about a client refusing to answer questions on the MNPAT.
  6. The collateral comments section was updated to provide clarity about what information can be used to verify the client’s responses.
  7. The “Homeless or Three or More Address Changes in Past Year” section was edited, changing “has been” to “is” for describing if a client is in custody in a correctional facility or living in a temporary situation.

The Implementation Steering Committee began meeting in March 2018 and met for the last time in November 2018. The committee made the following decisions and recommendations: 
 
  • The Court Services Tracking System (CSTS) was selected as the case management system where data from the Minnesota Pretrial Release Evaluation Form will be entered and stored for use in the validation study.
  • The modifications needed to the CSTS system to ensure data is entered and stored properly will be available in February 2019, but a mail-merge form can be created in CSTS until that time.  The form can be found on the Resources tab.
  • The Minnesota Pretrial Evaluation Form (the Minnesota Pretrial Assessment Tool (MNPAT) is part of the form) will be implemented in each county by December 1, 2018. Counties can implement the MNPAT any time after October 5, 2018 and before December 1, 2018.  Before using the MNPAT, all stakeholders must receive training.  Training materials, including an implementation training guide, can be found on the Resources tab.
  • The Committee acknowledged that each county may have unique implementation issues.  To ensure a smooth rollout of the MNPAT, each county should have a "County Leader" who leads the rollout.  That County Leader can use training materials to assist in the rollout, including an implementation training guide, found on the Resources tab.
  • Judge and Probation district champions have also been identified to help the County Leaders.
In January 2018, the Minnesota Judicial Council approved the Minnesota Pretrial Assessment Tool (MNPAT).

Anoka, Cass, Hennepin, Sherburne, and Wright counties will adopt and validate alternative tools that meet the statewide standards. All other counties will use the statewide tool, MNPAT. 

The Steering Committee is now developing a rollout schedule for the MNPAT.

The MNPAT will be validated through the State Court Administrator’s Office to promote consistent risk analysis. Alternative tools require approval from the Minnesota Judicial Council. Districts or counties using an alternative tool are required to meet the statewide standards for validation.

Minnesota Pretrial Release Evaluation Form and Assessment Tool (MNPAT)
Minnesota Pretrial Questionnaire
 
Pretrial Evaluation: The collection and analysis of a defendant’s information on factors impacting his/her likelihood to appear and risk to public safety.  May be conducted by local corrections or their designee (pretrial services, jail administration or law enforcement). 
Also known as:
  • bail evaluation
  • bail study
  • pretrial bail evaluation
Pretrial Evaluation Form: Template for recording factors of a particular defendant and the current charge used to inform the pretrial release decision.  A form does not assign a score or recommendation for pretrial release decisions and does not assign a weight for different factors.
Also known as:
  • pretrial evaluation form
  • bail form
  • form
Pretrial Release Decision: Release decision by court, or designated authority, that a defendant will be released on his/her own recognizance (ROR), released on conditions (CR), or released on bail/bond (bail).

Pretrial Release Process: The full process used in a court location (involving pretrial services and the court) from arrest/summons, including the pretrial evaluation, the pretrial release decision, and the actual release or detention of a defendant.

Pretrial Failure: An outcome that a pretrial risk assessment seeks to predict and minimize.  The most common outcomes are 1) likelihood of failure to appear (FTA) for court appearances in the present case and 2) likelihood of new crimes (e.g. arrest, charge) committed during the pretrial window (release to disposition).

Pretrial Risk Assessment Tool: A research-based (actuarial) instrument comprised of predictive factors that are weighted and scored to provide a recommended pretrial release decision (based on categorized risk of pretrial failure).  The tool is used to assist the court, or its designated authority, in making pretrial release decisions. 
Also known as:
  • tool
  • scale
Validation: A study of the effectiveness of a tool at predicting the outcome it seeks to predict on a specific population.

Racial Bias (in the Pretrial Risk Assessment Tool context): the tendency to treat those in a racial group (or groups) differently or unfairly. Racial discrimination is a result of racial biases, which can be explicit (conscious preference for a race), or implicit (preference for a race that operates outside of our awareness). 

Racial Disparity (in the Pretrial Risk Assessment Tool context): Racial disparity occurs when a racial group’s proportion of a particular statistic is over-represented as compared to its percentage of the population
For example: the percentage of those arrested as a proportion of the population.

Race Neutral (in the Pretrial Risk Assessment Tool context): a policy or score, for example, classifies individuals without regard for their race.