The Supervised Release Program (SPR) for Sarasota County’s mission is to promote and maximize public safety, court appearance, and pretrial justice.
SPR’s vision is to thrive as a leader within the justice system through a diverse, inclusive and empowered workforce that embodies integrity, excellence, accountability, and innovation in the delivery of the highest quality services.
The presumption of innocence of the pretrial defendant should lead to the least restrictive release consistent with community safety and return to court, and preventive detention only as a last resort, based on a judicial determination of the risk of non-appearance in court and/or danger to any person or to the community. Non-financial conditional release, based on the history, characteristics, and reliability of the defendant, is more effective than financial release conditions. Reliance on money bail discriminates against indigent defendants and cannot effectively address the need for release conditions that protect the public. Interventions that address substance disorders, employment, housing, medical, educational, and mental health issues afford defendants the opportunity for personal improvement and decrease the likelihood of criminal behavior. Innovation, effective use of technology and the development of human capital lead to organizational excellence, transparency, high professional and ethical standards, and accountability to the public.
The Supervised Release Program for Sarasota County performs two critically important tasks that contribute significantly to the effective administration of justice.
SPR gathers and presents information about newly arrested defendants and available release options for use by judicial officers in deciding what, if any, conditions are to be set for released defendants. SPR recommends the least restrictive conditions of release to the community that promote public safety and return to court.
SPR supervises defendants released from custody during the pretrial period by monitoring their compliance with certain conditions of release and helping to assure that they appear for scheduled court hearings. SPR supervision gives defendants the opportunity to participate in a variety of pro-social interventions in an effort to decrease the likelihood of future criminal behavior.
A judicial officer – a judge or magistrate judge – makes the initial pretrial release decision after taking into account the representations of the prosecutor and the defense attorney, as well as SPR‘s release recommendation. SPR provides objective, verified data about each defendant to assist in judicial decision-making. SPR recommendations are designed to manage flight and public safety risks associated with releasing defendants. Throughout the pretrial release period, SPR notifies the Court, prosecution, and defense counsel of defendant non-compliance. This information allows all of the parties to respond promptly to violations and fulfill their common purpose of serving the community.
When SPR performs these tasks, unnecessary pretrial detention is minimized, jail crowding is reduced, public safety is increased and the pretrial release process is administered fairly.
The Supervised Release Program for Sarasota County provides a wide range of supervision programs to support the 12th Judicial Circuit. The defendants that are supervised by SPR have a wide variety of risk profiles, from those posing limited risk and requiring condition monitoring, to those posing more considerable risk and needing extensive release conditions such as frequent drug testing, stay away orders, substance use disorder treatment or mental health treatment and/or frequent contact requirements with Pretrial Services Officers. SPR also has a number of programs that provide increasing levels of restrictive and specialized supervision.
In addition to the extensive conditions noted above, the highest risk defendants may be subject to electronically monitored curfew, home confinement, or tracking by global positioning systems. Sanctions for this population are immediate. Throughout the pretrial release period, SPR notifies the Court, prosecution, and defense of non-compliance with release conditions, and provides daily courtroom support on pretrial matters. All SPR supervision programs give defendants the opportunity to participate in interventions that decrease the likelihood of future criminal behavior. SPR supervises or monitors over 2,200 defendants each year. At any given time, over 500 defendants are under pretrial supervision.
The Supervised Release Program for Sarasota County serves the 12th Judicial Circuit and gathers and presents vital information about defendants and available release options that assist judicial officers in decision-making. SPR operates as an independent component of the criminal justice system and is a neutral fact finder. SPR assembles and presents information about arrestees and available release options for use by judicial officers in deciding what, if any, conditions are to be set for released defendants. Our court support services include:
Defendants usually are interviewed and brought to court within 24 hours of arrest. Pretrial Services Officers rely on sophisticated information technology to gather and compile local and national criminal justice information. Defendant attributes, prior criminal history and prior violent criminal history, current charge(s), and criminal justice status are considered when assessing potential public safety and/or appearance risks. SPR recommends the least restrictive non-financial release conditions needed to protect the community and reasonably assure the defendant’s return to court.
SPR uses a risk assessment instrument that examines relevant defendant data to help identify the most appropriate supervision levels for released defendants. The assessment scores various risk measures (e.g., previous failure to appear for court, previous dangerous and violent convictions, suspected drug disorder problems, current relationship to the criminal justice system, among numerous others). It then generates a score that assigns defendants to different risk categories and corresponding supervision assignments to help reduce the risk of failure to appear in court and rearrest. SPR’s risk assessment instrument helps Pretrial Services Officers determine an appropriate supervision level to recommend. A judicial officer makes the initial pretrial release decision after taking into account the representations of the prosecutor and the defense attorney, as well as SPR’s release recommendation.
Whether an inquiry comes from the court regarding a defendant who is due in court or a defendant appears who has missed a court date, SPR attempts to notify the defendant and determine the reason for a defendant’s failure to appear (FTA). The pertinent information is documented and the court is informed of the findings, which can prevent the issuance of a bench warrant. Additionally, Pretrial Services Officers routinely notify and remind defendants of court dates to reduce FTA rates and the issuance of bench warrants and assist defendants in surrendering on outstanding bench warrants.
The 12th Judicial Circuit operates an in-house laboratory that conducts drug testing for defendants under SPR’s supervision, offenders under Drug/DUI/Veterans Court supervision, as well as other respondents ordered into testing by the Court. The laboratory performs tests on thousands of samples each month. Each sample collected from defendants can be tested for up to ten different drugs. When requested, the laboratory staff also provide testimony in support of analytical results in Court or at administrative hearings.
The Supervised Release Program (SPR) for Sarasota County is interested in any comments, inquiries and feedback from the public.
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