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History of Pretrial Services in Santa Clara County

Published on: 4/24/2013 6:47 PM
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Pretrial release originated in Santa Clara County with the Judiciary in 1969. A pilot program was federally funded to develop innovative solutions to local criminal justice problems. The services were created to provide the information necessary for the court to make informed decisions regarding possible release. The County’s Pretrial Release Program was established and after the federal grant expired, the County assumed fiscal responsibility for pretrial services.

In 1974, pretrial services expanded to include supervised release, otherwise known as Supervised Own Recognizance Release or “S.O.R.P” or “Supervised O.R.” Officers began monitoring defendants’ compliance with court-ordered release conditions and reporting back to the courts any problems with noncompliance.

In 1998, the Office of Pretrial Services began on-site urine testing for drug and alcohol detection. Research studies have found urine testing to be an excellent method of reducing the incidence of pretrial crime and failure to appear to court dates. Using strict chain of custody procedures, qualified lab technicians and confirmation testing, pretrial services officers can report drug/alcohol testing results to the Court with proven accuracy.

Also in 1998, the Office of Pretrial Services began its electronic monitoring program (EMP) as an option for pretrial release. In these cases, defendants wear an ankle bracelet for home detention as an alternative to jail.

Over the years, the Office of Pretrial Services has collaborated with the Department of Mental Health and other criminal justice agencies to find alternatives to incarceration for mentally ill offenders. Officers attempt to identify mentally ill offenders early on in the court process and effectuate safe releases back into the community with linkages to services.

The Office of Pretrial Services offers comprehensive pretrial release options to the judiciary and provides early intervention services for the defendants thereby benefiting the community without compromising public safety.