Pretrial Intervention Programs

Pretrial Intervention Programs

Abstract

The ordinary judicial system is a medium which parties involved in interpersonal disputes often use as a means of retaliation. This study analyzed the efficacy of Pretrial Intervention (PTI) programs as a substitute for traditional criminal prosecution. The program is entails trained volunteer arbitrators mediating between the complainant and the defendant in order to reach a consensus without the involvement of the court. This proposal is determined to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach of intervention by scheduling hearings over a period of six months. The hearings are categorized in accordance to offense type and are to be analyzed to determine the correlation between; offences, race and sex of the parties involved. The proposal uses such measures to evaluate the effectiveness of conflict resolution efforts in each group. In addition to the above measure, the research utilizes other primary data collection tools such as questionnaires and secondary sources such as journals and scholarly articles to link theory with practicality on pre-trial intervention programs.

Introduction

Pretrial intervention is a voluntary option that offers alternatives to ordinary prosecution for offenders (especially first time offenders), on successful completion of a personalized program, a defendant is dismissed of the charge(s). The objective of a pretrial intervention program is to foster justice and to ensure public safety by addressing the root cause of the arrest that may have provoked the actions of the defendant. This also helps in reducing the stigma which is associated with a record of conviction, thus restoring the defendants and assists in the saving of court and criminal justice department resources. It is imperative that every jurisdiction should provide a pretrial intervention option in its system and appoint the right entities to supervise the functions of such programs.  However, it is important to note that, for a case to be considered for pretrial intervention it should have prosecutorial merit. For intervention to effective, the opportunity to apply for pretrial intervention program should be made readily available to eligible defendants-right from the when formal charges are filed to the final adjudication (PREMnotes 2005).

Background

In 1995, Pretrial Diversion Standards were introduced, the purposes of such programs were documented and those purposes have strayed up to today. Pretrial intervention programs were creates to provide enhancement for local justice systems, they offer flexible options for case processing that don’t necessitate the full fledge of court prosecution. Modern courts are grossly crowded (if not overcrowded), this has precipitated the need for pretrial interventions in communities and pretrial intervention programs offer an alternative to the conventional case processing thus freeing up court resources for more formal and complicated cases. Pretrial intervention programs have unique positive characteristics that offer an opportunity for very early intervention on the case which would otherwise result in significant impact on the defendant’s conduct. In the judicial context, the lesser the time that has elapsed between the action of arrest and the intervention, the greater the probable impact on the impetuous behavior. Intervention programs enhance participation in the intervention process. They utilize techniques to help the defendant to work through his/her present problems thereby reducing the possibility of occurrence of future arrests.

The purposes of the research

Courts are readily utilizing PTI as a tool for case management or as a way of enhancing the administration of justice. In the application of PTI programs, courts are increasingly motivated to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of these programs. Changing the policies and procedures of PTI programs in most cases can be relatively easy to implement. However, ensuring that there are improvements in the functionality of the program, courts need historical data that is methodically collected and analyzed. The purpose of this proposal is to spur more research on the effectiveness of pretrial intervention measures-specifically Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs. The modern ‘best practices’ euphoria in management has swept both the public and private sectors, and a key principle of modern management viewpoint is informed decision making. With deficiencies in current and accurate

Information, administrative leaders risk taking options that could not only jeopardize the judicial system credibility and efficiency but also sap the nation’s economic resources. This paper identifies that state courts are not immune to or isolated from evaluation with the intention of enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in their performance. The PTI programs are supposed to be of the quality of justice in the context of fiscal constraints, increased responsibilities, and dwindling confidence in the justice system. This is a complex system and the paper seeks to apply efficient collection of information and research to use in improving the efficiency of pretrial intervention programs-specifically Alternative Dispute resolution programs.

Literature review

Alternative dispute resolution involves processes such as mediation, arbitration and conciliation among others. PTI approach is tied to either the filing of a lawsuit or freestanding. When there is the filling of a lawsuit, a court will examine the dispute, then proposes or sometimes orders the involved parties to attempt to resolve their dispute through alternative dispute resolution. This then takes the form of mediation, arbitration, conciliation, or a mini-trial.  The process involves a neutral third party whose responsibility is to assist the disputants to reach an agreeable settlement. If they agree, the case is dismissed, thus saving the court and the disputing parties the costs of litigation. The freestanding alternative is most common in resolving commercial disputes.

The criminal justice system is built on two foundations: punishment and rehabilitation (Levin, 2007; Basile, 2005). The accused are subject to trial because of their unlawful acts of which they should be accountable for. However, sending the accused in jail or penalizing them as traditional methods prescribe has not been a good means of making the accused realize his or her error and thus try to mend their ways. Arguably there is need for defendants to learn from their mistakes; a service which the ‘correctional’ facilities are trying but have not achieved a desired success rate. The correlated goal is to mend the ways of the accused and to give them a chance to become better and more productive member of the society. Pretrial intervention (PTI) systems were introduced in courts to assess whether there exist a possibility for rehabilitation of the defendant or not (Levin, 2007).

In most states, statutes mandate the use of pretrial intervention programs when the accused is a first-time offender or is has been convicted of a felony that can be classified to involve non-violent misdemeanor (Dembo, 2008; Basile, 2005; Levin, 2007). The present charge must be only for misconduct or a third degree felony.

The impact of PTI programs

            Studies below capture the impacts of PTI systems with the intention of understanding the efficacy of PTI programs as a rehabilitative approach by the criminal justice system.

Recidivism Analysis of Post-Arrest Diversion

Scholars have conducted research and more than 300 participants of a post-arrest intervention programs. The effectiveness of the program was assessed by measuring and assessing the recidivism risk levels of each of the individuals. The researchers included in their assessment those participants who failed to complete the intervention program, particularly those who were affected by recidivism. The researchers used regression analysis to examine the correlation between pretrial intervention and recidivisms. The model used also helped in forecasting the results for the 12-month follow up period (Dembo et al., 2008).

Dembo et al. (2008) indicated that, participants who had successfully completed the intervention program had significantly fewer incidences of arrests and charges as compared to those individuals who had not completed the program. However, their study is displayed weaknesses- it did not incorporate general exogenous variables such as the age-range and criminal violations of the sampled individuals. This study cannot be used to inference on non-adolescent offenders. In addition, their study did not factor in baseline differences pertinent to psychological wellbeing of the participants; their model also neglected the improvement in psychological health.

The researchers discuss the importance of creating diversion programs which are grounded on individual assessments of offender risks factors and needs. The cost that this would entail to the government is acknowledged but the effectiveness of the process in reducing repeat offenses is clear. They observe that diversion programs which are grounded on screening, assessment and case management seem to support the risk factors affecting adolescent offenders.

Analysis of Family-oriented Interventions

The second study to be assessed herein also observed an intervention program directed towards youthful offenders. This study targeted the improvement of family functioning in order to promote the advance the behavioral and psychological functioning of the offenders (Dembo, Schmeidler, & Wothke, 2003). The goal of the study was relevant to the present research because it directly considered the rehabilitative potential of diversion programs. Thus, the focus of the study extended past the duration of the program and the possibility of re-appearance before the criminal court and looked towards behavioral improvement in the household setting  (Hamberger & Hastings 1990).

An experimental study was conducted with one group of families being subjected to regular home-based meetings and follow-ups and the other group being given only contact details and referral information. The study showed that adolescents involved in the experimental group reflected greater declines in delinquency involvement. The delinquency rates of the adolescents were determined through a self-report system. This data was validated through comparisons with official arrest records during the duration of the intervention program. This study has high external validity but low internal validity. The reliability of the self-report data is questionable, particularly given the sensitive nature of the information being given. Their findings were positive but the study failed to assess the program’s future applicability.

Other studies have indicate that, psychological interventions should be included in the criminal justice system. This increase the effectiveness of the intervention and in turn reduces recidivism.  Advocates of the psychotherapeutic approach argue that, educational interventions alone are not successful in rehabilitating offenders due to their superficial nature (Healey, Smith & O’Sullivan 1998).

Research problem

This research is meant to answer the question: do the Pretrial Intervention programs provide an opportunity for an offender to commit more serious crime in future due to its lenient attitude towards criminal? In answering this question, the study will be in a good position to explain whether Pretrial Intervention programs are effective and efficient in their mandate or otherwise.

Hypotheses

Null hypothesis: Pretrial Intervention programs are efficient in their functionality.

Alternative hypothesis: Pretrial Intervention programs provide opportunities for offenders to commit more serious crime.

Methodology

This research employs the use of primary and secondary methods of data collection. The primary methods to be used the scheduling of attendance to hearings over a period of six months; these will involve a minimum of five research assistants. The use of oral interviews to past offenders will serve as another good source of primary data. Attendance of hearings will be accompanied by questionnaires which will be administered twice, a first batch will be issued at the beginning of the research (in the first month) and the final questionnaires will be issued at the end of the research period (after six months). Secondary data will also be used; this will be obtained from the Justice department, the National Institute of Justice and from various pretrial intervention programs such as the Citizens’ Dispute Settlement Program and the Barterers intervention programs among others (Fein, Vossekuil & Holden 1995). Secondary data collection methods will also include the use of scholarly articles on the subject of Pretrial intervention programs in general in an attempt to incorporate theoretical explanation and data analysis. This is meant to contextualize the arguments that will be drawn from the findings.

Data analysis,

The research employs Regression analysis techniques in determining the correlation between intervention programs and recidivism. Regression analysis will also be used to analyzed the correlation between recidivism, gender and race. This inference can be used to enhance the use of pretrial intervention measures with respect to these attributes-genders and race. Qualitative analysis will draw its explanatory power from the available literature review on Pretrial Intervention programs. The analysis will assist in highlighting whether PTI programs are working effectively or not, and the courts will be able to make informed decisions about the improvement of PTI programs or the overhauling of such programs.

Ethical considerations

The issue of ethics in research is mostly related to consent of the participants. The research questionnaire will clearly indicate the purpose of the research. In accessing public records for information the researchers will exercise total confidentiality and the information obtained will only be used research purposes only.

Conclusion

PTI programs will continue to gain popularity as litigants are becoming more familiar with such programs. This research proposal is meant to help gather sufficient data on the subject of Pretrial Interventions by analyzing various intervention programs. Past studies have indicated that, intervention programs decrease recidivism and delinquent characteristics. The analysis of the effectiveness of the effectiveness and efficiency of Pretrial Intervention measures will help in collecting data that will help in enhancing future research on Pretrial intervention measures which again will ensure that implementable recommendations are made on Pretrial interventions.  The study pays significant attention on family-oriented intervention programs and their effectiveness for adult offenders.

References

Basile, V, D (2005). Getting Serious About Corrections. Federal Probation¸ 69(2), 29-31.

Dembo, R., Schmeidler, J & Wothke, W (2003). Impact of a Family Empowerment Intervention on Delinquent Behavior: A Latent Growth Model Analysis. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 37(2), 17-41.

Dembo, R., W. Walters, J. Wareham, C. Burgos, J. Schmeidler, R. Hoge, & L. Underwood (2008). Evaluation of an Innovative Post-Arrest Diversion Program: 12-Month Recidivism Analysis. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 47(4), 356-384.

EEO Office (2005). “Alternative Dispute Resolution Equal Employment Opportunity Process.” Viewed from: http://www.eu.dodea.edu/policies/ADR.pdf

Fein, R.A., Vossekuil, B & Holden, G (1995) “Threat Assessment: An Approach to Prevent Targeted Violence.” Research in Action Series. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.

Hamberger, K, L. & J.E. Hastings (1990). “Recidivism Following Spouse Abuse Abatement Counseling: Treatment Program Implications.” Violence and Victims. Vol.5, no. 3, p.157–170.

Healey, K., Smith, C & O’Sullivan, C (1998). “Barterer Intervention: Program Approaches and Criminal Justice Strategies.” Viewed from: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/168638.pdf

Levin, D. (2007). Examining the Efficacy of Pretrial Release Conditions, Sanctions and Screening with the State Court Processing Statistics Dataseries. American Society of Criminology, 2007 Conference Paper.

PREMnotes (2005). “Alternative dispute resolution—when it works, when it doesn’t.” Viewed from: http://www1.worldbank.org/prem/PREMNotes/premnote99.pdf

Tragos, E & Sartes, .A. (2008). Diversion Programs: PTI… Dismissal… Problem Solved… or Is It? Criminal Law, 82(9), 73-74.