The Most Under-Utilized Tool in Pretrial

The Most Under-Utilized Tool in Pretrial

Issuing citations instead of arrests is one of the most under-utilized tools in achieving better pretrial outcomes. So why aren’t more supervision agencies talking to their law enforcement partners about their citation usage?

Primarily, it’s because the people given a citation are the ones we don’t see. These individuals are off our case loads before we even know they’ve been cited, and in many cases, we never cross paths with them at all.

But, the fact that these individuals are not under pretrial supervision and are not being detained is exactly why they’re an important part of our community’s pretrial approach. As supervision professionals, it’s our responsibility to understand who’s not coming across our desks so we can understand the complete picture of pretrial in our community.

How can citations be beneficial?

Citations have been shown to reduce recidivism, reduce jail populations, and reduce costs, as compared to arrests. It makes sense: When people aren’t in jail and aren’t under pretrial supervision, the community can keep costs lower, and individuals experience minimal interruptions to their lives. Additionally, according to Missouri Pretrial Best Practices, the benefits of citations over arrests continue long-term: “Low-risk defendants who are detained pretrial are more likely to commit new crimes, not only while their cases are pending, but also years later.”1

The American Bar Association advocates for the use of citations when possible. ABA Standard 10-2.2 reads, in part, “A police officer who has grounds to arrest a person for a minor offense should be required to issue a citation in lieu of taking the accused to the police station or to court.”

What’s my role as a supervision professional?

While we’re not out on the streets making the decision to arrest or to cite, we can be advocates for citations as part of our community’s approach to pretrial. Strong interagency partnerships are a cornerstone of any effective pretrial program, and we can work with law enforcement to better understand their approach to citations and advocate for least-restrictive policies.

No matter where your agency or your community is in your pretrial program development or redevelopment, we can help. We’ve been working with agencies like yours for over three decades, and we have a passion for improving pretrial outcomes, with or without technology solutions.

Give us a call today to talk through your pretrial program and where to take it next.

1 NICIC Missouri Pretrial Best Practices