At Tuesday’s Leon County Board of County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners received a status report on the 2020 Annual Supervised Pretrial Release Program Report and authorized staff to submit the report to the Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller for Leon County.
The Supervised Pretrial Release Program Report is required by Florida Statutes, Section 907.43, also known as the “Citizen’s Right to Know Act.” The report must identify program activities, funding sources, the number of defendants assessed after arrest and the number ordered into the Pretrial Release program by the court.
In 2018, the Criminal Justice Data Transparency initiative amended the Citizens’ Right to Know Act by adding new data elements to the annual Program Report. These data points include: type of release (with or without bond); the number of defendants charged with dangerous crimes, nonviolent felonies, or misdemeanors only; and the number of defendants with no prior criminal conviction.
According to the meeting agenda, the Supervised Pretrial Release Program is an alternative to bond for defendants who are likely to appear in court and unlikely to present a danger to the community if released. In March of 2019, Administrative Orders (AOs) 2019-05 and 2019-06 were issued to guide the Supervised Pretrial Release Program to ensure the consistent, objective application of criteria when considering a defendant’s eligibility and appropriate conditions for release.
The goal of the program is to reduce the amount of nonviolent offenders who remained in custody because of their inability to post bond. Since the AOs were issued, the County has seen an uptick in the number of defendants who were released without bond. From 515 defendants released in 2018, to 1,174 in 2019 and 1,097 in 2020.
In 2020, of the 1,609 defendants accepted into the Supervised Pretrial Release Program:
- 65% or 1,044 of the supervised defendants had no violations, were still enrolled, or had completed the program as of the end of the calendar year.
- 35% or 565 of the supervised defendants violated the pretrial release conditions.
- 68% or 1,097 of the supervised defendants were released without posting a monetary bond.