MSSP SealUNITED STATES PROBATION & PRETRIAL SERVICES

Southern District of Mississippi

Carolyn M. Romano, Chief U.S. Probation Officer __________________________________________________________________

 

PRETRIAL UNIT

OUR MISSION

The Pretrial Services Division of the Southern District of Mississippi is defined by two Federal Statutes; the Pretrial Services Act of 1982 and the Bail Reform Act of 1984. We are dedicated to conducting impartial bail investigations in an effort to minimize pretrial detention, and are committed to implementing comprehensive supervision strategies, when applicable, to enhance community safety and reduce nonappearance.

To Those We Serve, We Are Committed To the Following Guideline Principles

Setting the Standards: Striving to provide the highest quality products through thorough investigations, accurate and timely reports, and leading the way in community supervision and safety;

Integrity: Maintaining the highest level of respect, professionalism, accountability and ethics;

Training: Providing progressive training to all staff to meet the future challenges of the changing environment;

Vision: We will aspire to be the leader in Federal Pretrial Services.

PRETRIAL SERVICES PERFORMS TWO MAJOR FUNCTIONS:

1. INVESTIGATION

Once a defendant is arrested by federal agents, the Pretrial Services Officer conducts a quick but very thorough investigation about the defendant. The majority of the information is provided by the defendant during the interview shortly after arrest, which is normally conducted just prior to the defendant’s first appearance in court. After interviewing the defendant, the officer will verify the defendant’s information, contradict it, or obtain additional information. The officer’s investigation may include contacting the defendant’s family, friends, associates, employer, law enforcement agencies, and/or financial institutions. The information provided by the defendant is not used to determine guilt, rather his/her suitability for release from federal custody.

The Pretrial Services Officer’s job is to identify defendants who are likely to fail to appear at future court hearings or are likely to present a danger to society. The officer must balance the presumption that the defendant is “innocent until proven guilty” with the reality that some defendants may flee the jurisdiction or present a threat to the community.

Should the defendant be released on a bond (secured or unsecured), there are release conditions set which are tailored to the individual defendant, with the inclusion of the universal condition that the defendant not commit a federal, state, or local crime during the period of release. In any case, it is the Pretrial Officer’s statutory responsibility to recommend the least restrictive conditions that would reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance in court.

If no combination of conditions would ensure future appearance, or if the defendant is viewed as a danger to the community, detention is then recommended.

Once the investigation is completed, the Pretrial Services Officer submits a report to the court with the appropriate recommendation which assists the court in making an informed decision regarding the defendant’s release or detention pending trial. If the defendant is ordered released on bond, Pretrial Services will supervise the defendant until his/her case is either dismissed, acquitted, or sentence is commenced.

2. SUPERVISION

In supervising defendants, Pretrial Services Officers serve as agents of the court, ensuring that released defendants comply with the court-ordered release conditions, thereby assisting their needs pending trial while promoting law-abiding behavior. Specifically, the officer’s supervision duties include: conducting regular home visits, verifying employment, monitoring their compliance with drug and alcohol treatment or mental health counseling, arranging for educational or vocational training for them, assisting them in finding employment, and referring them to appropriate community resources.

In instances where a defendant needs 24-hour monitoring in the home or elsewhere in the community, Pretrial Services supervision may also include home confinement with or without electronic monitoring. This real-time monitoring of the defendant’s compliance with restrictions on his/her whereabouts provides an added measure of defendant accountability.

One of the important functions of Pretrial Services is to report any apparent violation of release conditions promptly to the court and the U.S. Attorney, giving a recommended course of action (e.g., remanded to custody or modification of conditions).

Community-based supervision of defendants provides an important and significant benefit as a major cost-saving alternative to jail or prison. Further, an effective program of supervision helps protect the public by reducing the risks that persons under supervision will commit future crimes, while providing necessary services to assist the defendant in coping with daily issues and problems pending completion of the federal criminal case. As an alternative to incarceration, pretrial supervision allows federal defendants to remain with their families, maintain employment, receive needed services, and provide support for them to be productive members of society.

 

PRETRIAL DIVERSION

What is Pretrial Diversion (also known as Deferred Prosecution)?

 

Pretrial Diversion is a program that is designed to preserve prosecutorial and judicial resources for serious criminal matters and to provide alternative treatment and intervention to those individuals for whom traditional prosecution may be less effective. Individuals, who are recommended for the program by the United States Attorney’s Office, can benefit from existing community programs as an alternative to the routine court process. In conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office, the program is operated by the United States Pretrial Services, which assumes supervisory responsibilities. In order to be considered for the program, certain criteria must be met and a candidate must agree to abide by certain conditions that are set forth in the formal Pretrial Diversion Agreement. If the Pretrial Diversion program is successfully completed, the charge(s) initially brought against the individual is eventually dismissed.

 

 

Quick Access to Useful Forms

Creating Hope And Reassuring Many

 

 

Anxious about sentencing?

This handout can help ease your concerns and answer questions you may have about what to expect.

 

Pretrial Monthly Supervision Report