The Pretrial Services Unit is funded by the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) and SB 129 money and was first implemented in 2016. The three (3) Probation Assistants and one (1) Probation Officer assigned to the unit conduct pretrial assessments and provide program services and supervision of defendants while on pretrial release according to their risk level. The Merced County Sheriff’s Department is responsible for supervision of defendants released on electronic monitoring. Staff utilizes the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) to assist in the investigation and evaluation of a defendant’s risk level of failing to appear in court and re-offending while on pretrial release while maintaining the presumption of innocence and providing protection to the public. Defendants can download the SmartLink mobile app to their smartphone which will send them reminders regarding future court dates. If defendants do not have a smartphone, one is provided to them free of charge while on pretrial release. The Pretrial Services Unit assesses defendants five (5) days per week and completes reports at the request of the Merced County Superior Court, providing the Court with information to assist with release decisions based on evaluated risks.
The PSA is an objective research-based instrument that is a good predictor of a defendant’s level of risk of failure (failure to appear and/or new arrest) if released pending trial.