Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research

A Validation of the Palm Beach County Jail Risk Assessment Instrument for the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission

The MacArthur Foundation awarded the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) a Safety and Justice Challenge Grant. The goals of the Justice Challenge include reducing the jail population and addressing racial disparities in pretrial release, while improving public safety.

To attempt to reduce the pretrial jail population, the Palm Beach County CJC is implementing a risk assessment instrument to be used during first appearance hearings. The purpose of the instrument is to assess the risk of reoffending prior to trial as well as the likelihood of an individual to appear in court as ordered by a judge. Based on those scores, the instrument provides suggested levels of supervision prior to trial. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the implementation and predictive validity of the Palm Beach County Jail Risk Assessment Instrument (PBCJRAI).

FSU’s role in this project includes providing consulting services to the Palm Beach County CJC during a pre-study. This includes guidance on research design, methods, and analytical techniques for a review of jail population and pretrial release trends, first appearance hearing decisions, success and failure of pretrial releases, and racial disparities in pretrial decision-making.

Following the pre-study, FSU is assessing the implementation of the PBCJRAI by the Palm Beach County CJC and the PBCJRAI’s predictive validity. The implementation portion of the project focuses on how the PBCJRAI is administered and used by Palm Beach County. The validation of the PBCJRAI focuses on the accuracy of the instrument in predicting failure to appear in court as ordered by a judge, re-arrest, and re-arrest for a violent crime. In addition, this study assesses whether the predictive validity of the PBCJRAI varies by demographic characteristics.

Contacts:

Principal Investigator: Thomas Blomberg, Dean and Sheldon L. Messinger Professor of Criminology

Co-Principal Investigator: William Bales, Ph.D.

Researcher: Jennifer Copp, Ph.D.

Project Manager: George Pesta, Ph.D.

Graduate Student: J.W. Andrew Ranson

Dates: November 1, 2016 to September 30, 2019

Funding Agency: Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission

Funding Amount: $190,000