- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Judges in Aberdeen, Rapid City and Sioux Falls soon might have better information to help them decide whether to lock up or release suspects awaiting trial.

Brown, Pennington and Minnehaha counties are working with the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School to develop a pilot program to screen and analyze defendants’ backgrounds as a way to better predict their flight risk and danger to the public.

Judges will receive a pretrial report containing more information than they can typically glean from police reports and attorneys, the Argus Leader newspaper reported (http://argusne.ws/1mYDs12 ).

Magistrate Judge John Hinrichs in the 2nd Judicial Circuit supports the idea.

“As a judge, I crave more information. I want to make the best decision possible,” he said. “If somebody is dangerous or is a danger to flee or not appear in court, I want to know.”

South Dakota is paying the Criminal Justice Institute $99,000 to provide a year of technical assistance and produce a final report for the state, according to governor’s attorney Jim Seward.

“If you can find a monitor-and-risk assessment to determine who could be released, and determine 25, 30 or 40 percent could be, I imagine counties would want to evaluate that,” he said.

Officials have not yet decided who will compile the pretrial reports for the judges.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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