Federal District Courts' Implementation of the 1982 Pretrial Services Act

GGD-85-84: Published: Sep 26, 1985. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) how the federal district courts are implementing the Pretrial Services Act of 1982; (2) the reliability of the pretrial services data being reported by the courts to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts; and (3) the initiatives taken to better utilize resources available for performing pretrial services.

GAO found that: (1) not all eligible defendants were contacted before bail hearings because most district courts do not have enough staff to fully implement the program; (2) some judicial officers did not support the program; (3) responsible law enforcement agents did not always notify probation or pretrial service officers when there were criminal defendants to be interviewed; (4) pretrial case files generally showed that information reported to the Administrative Office was accurate; and (5) three of the district courts experienced difficulties in reporting pretrial information in a timely manner. GAO also found that initiatives were underway to: (1) develop abbreviated pretrial interview and report forms for selected defendants; (2) test the feasibility of using law and criminal justice students to perform selected pretrial functions; and (3) develop guidelines for pretrial service officers to recommend pretrial supervision to judicial officers.

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