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March 30th, 2015, 12:00 AM

The instrument is supposed to be used by every probation department in the Commonwealth. The instrument is an objective tool that is supposed to minimize the implicit biases that might come into the subjective decision-making of an individual probation officer, and use objective factors to determine whether probation will recommend pre-hearing detention of a child. The instrument is part of a larger detention reduction movement, which may be happening via the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative ("JDAI") in some counties across the state. According to Juvenile Probation, the underlying principles of the PaDRAI are:

  1. Objectivity;
  2. Uniformity;
  3. Use of evidence-based risk factors in determining which children should be detained. The PaDRAI is designed to measure risk a child's risk to re-offend and/or fail to appear during the specific time period while he or she is awaiting her court date.

The PaDRAI scores the child in seven different areas:

  1. Most Serious New Alleged Offense;
  2. Most Serious Current Alleged Violations;
  3. Most Serious Additional Non-related charge (for this referral) or Pending Charge;
  4. Current Status of the child; (5) Prior Adjudications or Consent Decrees;
  5. History of Warrants for Failure to Appear for Court (within the past 12 months);
  6. History of Escape/AWOL/Runaway (within past 12 months).

A score of 0-9 should result in a RELEASE recommendation by probation. A score of 10-14 should result in a recommendation of an ALTERNATIVE TO DETENTION program by probation (e.g., EHM, evening reporting center, shelter placement, etc…). A score of 15 or more should result in a DETENTION recommendation from probation. There are two categories of overrides that can result in a recommendation that is not in accordance with the score as indicated. First, are MANDATORY OVERRIDES. Those include, but are not limited to: firearms offenses, certain drug offenses, bench warrants, and holds for other jurisdictions. In the case of a mandatory override, even when a child scores below the range for a detention recommendation, probation will ask for the child to be detained. Second, are DISCRETIONARY OVERRIDES. Those include overrides to not recommend detention even though a child is scoring as needing it and overrides to recommend detention even though a child scores as not needing it. There is a non-exhaustive list of mitigating and aggravating factors that could lead to a discretionary override.

Local probation departments should be compiling statistics regarding use, outcomes, and effectiveness of the PaDRAI. Additionally, all probation departments should be submitting statistical information to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which then will make statistical reports available to the public on its website.

Defenders in each county should monitor the use of the PaDRAI in their respective counties, including obtaining a copy of the completed PaDRAI for each client.

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