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Harris takes pre-trial services step toward criminal justice reform

With the goal of “nothing less than to be a pioneer in pretrial services,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has appointed Llana Greer as executive director of Pretrial Services for Shelby County.

“We plan to expand the use of efficient, accurate, and unbiased tools. We want to make an impact on lives and expand fairness in our criminal justice system,” Harris said. “In order to be effective at this kind of work, you need someone with deep understanding and capacity to lead. We have found that in Ms. Greer.”

Greer has been with Pretrial Services for more than 25 years. As manager at Pretrial Services, she with the MacArthur Foundation, the Justice Management Institute and the Sheriff’s Office on best practices for individuals introduced to the justice system.

The task ahead for Greer is to work on reforms designed to lead to a more equitable, safe, and cost-saving operation.

“This is work I am very passionate about,” Greer said. “I look forward to leading this department as Shelby County Government embarks on innovative reforms.”

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said Pretrial Services is an essential office when it comes to public safety in Shelby County.

“The Sheriff’s Office has worked closely with Ms. Greer for years, and I look forward to a continued partnership as we take a closer look at how people are detained at The Walter Bailey Justice Center.”

Shelby County has about 2,900 men and women in county jail facilities, Harris said.

“Many are not considered a threat to public safety and could go home to await their trial date, if they had money for bail,” Harris said. “They stay in our jails primarily because they don’t have any money. This comes at a tremendous cost.

“It is nearly $100 per day to house an inmate waiting for trial. A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation would reveal that the costs of detention are more than $100 million per year.”

A data-based technology tool called the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) now is available to decide if a non-violent offender should have a bail set or not.

The PSA uses data collected from detainees to predict if someone poses a safety risk and can be expected to show up for trial. Using an algorithm, the PSA creates a score based on risk factors such as age at current arrest, charges, prior convictions and prior failure to appear in court.

Putting the technology into use here will be part of Greer’s duties.

“Using technology and up-to-date tools, we can change the lives of thousands of people involved with the criminal justice system, save precious resources, and still keep our community safe,” Harris said.

Trials on the technology are expected to be launched in the spring.

 

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