Problematic Behavior or Activity
Oregon’s bail reform movement led to legislation about pretrial release that took effect in 1974. Lane County’s program began in early 1975 with the hire of one release officer. The program grew over the years as people recognized the need to help control the jail population. With the use of a risk-assessment tool, defendants who pose the lowest risk to other people are released with the least onerous conditions possible, to help ensure their appearance in court and the safety of alleged victims and the community.
Impact on the Community
Before the use of release assistance officers and the risk-assessment tool, releases due to overcrowding were determined through a system that did not consider dangerousness to the community.
All circuit court defendants are interviewed using a risk-assessment tool. Release assistance officers have judicial authority to make release decisions regarding all crimes except murder and treason.
Based on Research
The program uses a modified risk-assessment tool developed by the state of Virginia. Release decisions are made using the tool and applying Oregon Revised Statutes.
The program is funded through the state’s General Fund, CCA, grants, and dedicated sheriff’s deputy positions.
Program staff are developing a process to measure outcomes.
Critical Success Factors
Collaboration among agencies is critical.
Collaborate with other agencies. Validate your risk-assessment tool. Know the population in your jail. Develop a means to measure your program’s success.