The United States Pretrial Services System - A Vital Part of the Judiciary
The U.S. Pretrial Services System is a vital part of the federal judiciary. The system’s mission is to investigate and supervise defendants. U.S. pretrial services officers provide these services. Their core responsibilities: investigation, report preparation and supervision are explained below.
Officers investigate defendants for the court by gathering and verifying information about them. Pretrial services officers investigate defendants who are charged with federal crimes and awaiting a court hearing.
Officers prepare reports that the court relies on in making decisions. Pretrial services reports help the court decide whether to release or detain defendants while they are awaiting trial. Officers also prepare other reports for the court, including reports that address individuals’ adjustment to supervision and their compliance with conditions of release.
Officers supervise defendants in the community and in doing so reduce the risk these persons pose to the public. Pretrial services officers supervise defendants released pending trial. Officers intervene with a variety of strategies aimed at maximizing defendant success during the period of supervision. These strategies include techniques both to control and to correct the behavior of persons under supervision to help ensure that these individuals comply with the conditions of release the court has set for them and remain law abiding. As part of risk control—and by order of the court—officers may direct defendants to services to assist them. These services include substance abuse or mental health treatment, medical care, training, or employment assistance. Treatment providers under contract to the U.S. courts provide many of these services. Social service resources provided by state and local programs also are used.