Deciding to adopt a pretrial risk assessment such as the PSA represents an important step in building a more effective and efficient pretrial system. The process of implementing a pretrial risk assessment should not be undertaken lightly: Implementation involves multiple agencies within your jurisdiction, requires extensive collaboration, and includes a number of steps.
The PSA implementation process is divided into six phases, some of which run concurrently. For most jurisdictions, the process takes six to eight months to complete. Instructional guides and supporting resources are available for each step of the PSA implementation process.
The Engagement phase focuses on tasks jurisdictions should complete in the first two months of the process. The activities include creating an implementation team, drafting an implementation plan, defining the team’s purpose and role, scheduling team meetings, and educating members about the PSA.
The Technology Integration phase focuses on the activities related to integrating the PSA into a jurisdiction’s data systems. This includes deciding which of the jurisdiction’s information management systems will house the PSA and programming it into the selected system. Completing the technology activities can take up to six months or more and will often determine the PSA launch date.
The Managing Risk phase focuses on how a jurisdiction makes pretrial decisions and how the PSA can help inform them. These steps should be completed in the first half of the implementation process. The main activities in this phase are to create a pretrial Decision Framework and develop a Release Conditions Matrix. To complete these tasks, it is useful for every member of the implementation team to have a basic understanding of the history and legal foundations of pretrial justice; empirical research on pretrial risk assessment and risk management; and the state’s pretrial laws and rules. Some jurisdictions find it useful to consult with national pretrial experts to educate the implementation team about these topics and assist in completing the activities in this phase. Contact the PSA Help Desk for a list of technical assistance providers trained on the PSA.
The Measuring Risk phase involves tailoring PSA resources to a jurisdiction. The activities include completing a Violent Offense List, understanding the risk factor definitions, tailoring the PSA Scoring Manual, and designing a PSA report. All of these activities must be completed before a jurisdiction can conduct training or start using the PSA.
The Training phase occurs toward the end of the implementation process. It involves training the PSA assessors and conducting extensive stakeholder education sessions. The assessor training is designed for those who will score and complete the PSA. Stakeholder education is important to inform criminal justice professionals in a jurisdiction about the PSA and the changes that a pretrial risk assessment may bring about.
The last phase of PSA implementation focuses on ensuring that a jurisdiction’s use of the PSA conforms to its intended purpose and produces the expected results. During this phase, the implementation team designs a quality assurance process, agrees on a set of performance outcomes, and decides on a process to oversee PSA performance.
Upon completion of the PSA implementation activities, a jurisdiction is ready to “go live” with the PSA and begin using it to help inform pretrial decisions.