NACDL on Risk Assessment Instruments
Recognizing the important role impacted community and local criminal defense stakeholders play in identifying the needs and best resources to create a fairer system of pretrial justice, NACDL, along with NLADA, the ACCD, Gideon's Promise, and NAPD issued a Joint Statement on Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments, Updated March 2019, which highlights these concerns and provides a set of checks and balances which should be utilized to reduce unnecessary detention and help eliminate racial and ethnic bias in the outcomes of pretrial decisions.
Making Sense of Pretrial Risk Assessments, Brandon Buskey and Andrea Woods, June 2018
The Siren Song of Objectivity: Risk Assessment Tools and Racial Disparity, Rick Jones, April 2018
Pretrial Risk Assessment Instruments
Learn about some of the risk assessment instruments currently in use, including Stanford Law School's Policy Lab's Fact Sheets, User Manuals, and Validation and Revalidation Studies.
- Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool
- Indiana Risk Assessment System
- Ohio Risk Assessment System
- Pretrial Risk Assessment
- Public Safety Assessment
- Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument
- Additional Resources
Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT)
Implemented in 2012, the CPAT is currently undergoing a re-validation study due to be completed in 2020.
Indiana Risk Assessment System (IRAS)
Developed from the ORAS, used in Indiana courts as part of a pilot project
Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS)
Latessa, E., Smith, P., Lemke, R., Makarios, M., & Lowenkamp, C. (2009). Creation and validation of the Ohio Risk Assessment System: Final report.
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Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
Pretrial Risk Assessment (PTRA)
Implemented as a pilot in 2009, the tool was implemented in all 93 federal districts in 2011. A re-validation study was completed in 2018.
Cohen, T., Lowenkamp C., Hicks, W. (2018). Revalidating the Federal Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (PTRA): A Research Summary.
Cadigan, T., & Lowenkamp, C. (2011). Implementing risk assessment in the federal pretrial services system.
Lowenkamp, C., & Whetzel, J. (2009). The development of an actuarial risk assessment instrument for U.S. Pretrial Services.
VanNostrand, Keebler (2009), Pretrial Risk Assessments in the Federal Court
Public Safety Assessment (PSA)
Developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the PSA is used in approximately 30 jurisdictions, including Arizona, Harris County, Kentucky, and New Jersey.
NACDL's Harris County Bail Manual
NACDL's New Jersey Bail Manual
RTI International (2018) The Public Safety Assessment: A Re-Validation and Assessment of Predictive Utility and Differential Prediction by Race and Gender in Kentucky
Milgram, A., Holsinger, A., VanNostrand, M., & Alsdorf, M. (2015). Pretrial risk assessment: Improving public safety and fairness in pretrial decision-making.
Laura and John Arnold Foundation (2014). Results from the first six months of the Public Safety Assessment-Court in Kentucky.
Laura and John Arnold Foundation (2013). Developing a national model for pretrial risk assessment
Kennedy, S., House, L., & Williams, M. (2013). Using research to improve pretrial justice and public safety: Results from PSA’s risk assessment validation project.
VanNostrand, M., & Lowenkamp, C. (2013). Assessing pretrial risk without a defendant interview
Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (VPRAI)
Used in Virginia and in California
VanNostrand, M., & Rose, K. (2009). Pretrial risk assessment in Virginia: The Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument.
Danner, M., VanNostrand, M., & Spruance, L. (2016). Race and Gender Neutral Pretrial Risk Assessment, Release Recommendations, and Supervision: VPRAI and Praxis Revised.
Danner, M., VanNostrand, M., & Spruance, L. (2015). Risk-based pretrial release recommendation and supervision guidelines: Exploring the effect on officer recommendations, judicial decision-making, and pretrial outcome.
Additional Resources on Risk Assessments
A Primer on Risk Assessment Instruments for Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys, Safety + Justice Challenge, MacArthur Foundation (2019)
About Risk Assessments, Pretrial Justice Center for Courts
Q&A Profile Based Risk Assessment for US Pretrial Incarceration, Human Rights Watch (2018)
Risk Assessment Articles, The Marshall Project
Risk Assessments Explained, The Appeal
The Use of Pretrial "Risk Assessment Instruments," A Shared Statemetn of Civil Rights Concerns, The Leadership Conference