Social Service Pretrial Services

The Pretrial Services Division of the Social Service Department consists of two specialized units to serve the Circuit Court of Cook County. These units are the Pre-Release Unit and the Post-Release Unit. The Pre-Release unit completes a specialized risk assessment on misdemeanor defendants prior to initial appearance hearings to gather information that will assist the court in making decisions about pretrial release. Judges may consider this information when making judgments on the conditions of pretrial release which allows defendants to be monitored in the community while awaiting trial. These services are provided to enhance the criminal justice system’s ability to use the least restrictive means possible to ensure a defendant’s appearance in court and to protect public safety, while reserving the economically and socially costly use of jail for only those cases in which it is necessary. 

Officers assigned to initial appearance assessment duties are responsible for conducting thorough criminal background checks, interviewing defendants (to gather information regarding employment, residence, living arrangements, family information, substance use problems, military records and mental health issues); and completing the risk assessment tool. This information is recorded and presented to the court to support its proceedings.

Once a defendant is given pretrial release by a judge, defendants are monitored and supervised in the community by officers of the Post-Release unit. These officers have a number of tasks including the following: conduct regularly scheduled meetings with defendants at which officers are to address the conditions of release; attempt to verify address, employment, school and compliance with conditions; follow up on any supervision strategies and discuss the need for new strategies; conduct criminal record checks; remind defendants of their scheduled court dates; and provide the court with status reports regarding the defendant's compliance with conditions of release.