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Pretrial Services Investigations Philosophy

Certain constitutional rights and laws provide the framework for pretrial services. They are as
follows:
  • A defendant is innocent unless proven guilty.
  • The Bail Reform Act of 1966 had as a fundamental goal the prevention of unnecessary
    pretrial detention when conditions of release are available to reasonably assure a defendant’s
    court appearances. It created a presumption in favor of release on the least restrictive
    conditions. The Bail Reform Act of 1984, however, created presumptions in favor of
    detention in certain cases.
  • An officer works for the court and is not aligned with either the defense or government
    counsel.
  • An officer uses the least intrusive means necessary to adequately investigate a defendant.
  • Confidentiality regulations must be strictly adhered to in interviews, investigations, reports,
    and supervision.
  • An officer must recommend and the court impose the least restrictive conditions to
    reasonably assure a defendant’s appearance in court and the safety of the community.
  • A financial bond is used only to address a nonappearance risk.
  • A financial bond should not result in the detention of a defendant solely for financial
    reasons.
  • A pretrial services report contains only information relevant to the assessment of
    nonappearance and danger risks.
 
Pretrial Services Supervision Philosophy

As the component of the federal judiciary responsible for community corrections, the Federal
Probation and Pretrial Services system is fundamentally committed to providing protection to the
public and assisting in the fair administration of justice. While maintaining the presumption of
innocence and working under the guidance of the court, pretrial services seeks to effectively
supervise persons released to its custody and thereby promote public safety, facilitate the judicial
process and reduce unnecessary detention.

Pretrial services is the front door to the federal criminal justice system and has a unique opportunity
to lay the foundation for each defendant’s success, not only during the period of pretrial services
supervision, but even beyond that time. Officers strive to work with each defendant in such a manner
that this contact with the criminal justice system will be his/her last and so prevent the front door
of the system from becoming a revolving door.

While pretrial services has no authority over a defendant beyond the period of pretrial services
supervision, it can help to lay the foundation for success by:
1. Adhering to the highest standards of professional ethics;
2. Employing effective supervision practices; and
3. Creating effective partnerships with other criminal justice components and with the community.
  
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The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System

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