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In April 2018, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation released two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) focused on the overarching goals of reducing unnecessary pretrial detention, promoting racial justice, and increasing equity, fairness, and accountability at the front end of the criminal justice system.

The first RFP seeks a National Provider that will work in partnership with LJAF to provide access to the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner. Jurisdictions will be able to learn about the PSA as well as have all of the guides and materials to fully implement the risk assessment. The National Provider’s role will also include providing technical assistance in up to 200 sites, and more intensive training and technical assistance in 10 diverse research sites.

The second RFP lays out LJAF’s pretrial justice research objectives and seeks researchers to help undertake this work. The research agenda will examine the implementation and validation of the PSA as well as evaluate the PSA algorithm using a variety of sophisticated statistical methods to determine if improvements should be made to the existing PSA. This research will be conducted in the 10 research sites and will require extensive collaboration with the National Provider. This parallel and dual approach of technical assistance and pretrial risk assessment research has yet to be undertaken in the field. However, LJAF believes there is a great deal of knowledge to be gained by such an effort in terms of understanding implementation, judicial decision making, system impact, and PSA performance. Beyond this, the RFP seeks to address research questions about developing and implementing specific offense risk assessments during the pretrial stage, such as assessments that predict the likelihood of a domestic violence, sex crimes, or DUI arrest during the pretrial period. Finally, LJAF hopes to answer questions about the impact of pretrial detention on individuals and systems. Results from this research will be broadly disseminated by LJAF and the National Provider to ensure communities receive the most up-to-date evidence as they move forward with pretrial reform in their jurisdictions.

To do this research well, and to offer greater transparency and objectivity, LJAF has brought together a unique group of experts, consisting of policy makers, practitioners, and researchers from varied disciplines to participate in the Pretrial Research Advisory Board. The Board will provide external guidance on LJAF’s pretrial research agenda, review proposals, and review research as it rolls in. One of the Board’s primary objectives is to objectively analyze research proposals and offer recommendations on how those proposals can be improved and what projects should be considered for funding. LJAF is grateful to these seven individuals for their commitment to serve on the Pretrial Research Advisory Board and for sharing our goals to improve the pretrial justice system.

Pretrial Research Advisory Board members include (updated December 16, 2019):

Ronald Adrine, Retired Judge, Cleveland Municipal Court


Judge Ron Adrine served on the bench of the Cleveland Municipal Court for 36 years. During his time there, he took a leading role in the debate on bail reform. As the Administrative and Presiding Judge of his court, he gained the unanimous approval of his colleagues to amend the court’s local rules, implement Arnold Ventures’ Public Safety Assessment, and expand a series of effective alternatives to jail within his court’s jurisdiction. The purpose of these reforms was to eliminate the unnecessary incarceration of low-risk, lower-income people. Under his leadership, the court reduced the total number of those incarcerated by half, with no appreciable increase in the rate of failures to appear or additional criminal activity. During the 1990’s, he chaired the Ohio Commission on Racial Fairness and, more recently, served on the Ohio Supreme Court’s Criminal Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Committee on Bail and Pretrial Services. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts (2016-2017) and separately on the Center’s National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail.

Rosemary Barberet, Sociology Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Rosemary Barberet is a Professor in the Sociology Department at John Jay Collect of Criminal Justice with teaching and service in International Criminal Justice. Dr. Barberet's publications have dealt with self-reported youth crime, women and crime, crime indicators, comparative methodology and victimology. Dr. Barberet’s past and current roles include chairing the International Division of the American Society of Criminology, editing Feminist Criminology, and representing the International Sociologists Association (ISA) and Criminologists without Borders at the United Nations. Dr. Barberet has also consulted for the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Colombian Government's Statistical Agency DANE, and the Puerto Rico Council on Higher Education. Dr. Barberet has received many awards including two for her latest book, Women, Crime and Criminal Justice: A Global Enquiry (2014), from the Division of International Criminology of the American Society of Criminology and the International Section of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences for her most recent book.

Kate Brubacher Murphy, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, MO

Kate is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and the Director of Innovative Prosecution Solutions at the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (Kansas City) where she develops and implements a broad range of programming aimed at reducing gun violence in the urban core. Kate works with community members as well as academic partners, foundations, and think-tanks across the country to understand current research in criminal justice and design programs in Kansas City that will increase public safety and contribute to the national conversation on responsible reform. Kate received her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Alexandra Chouldechova, Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University


Dr. Chouldechova is an Assistant Professor of Statistics and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. Since receiving her Ph.D. in Statistics from Stanford, Chouldechova’s research has centered on fairness in predictive modeling. Some of her recent research topics have included the circumstances surrounding disparate impact, quantifications of fairness, and the role of black-box predictors for potential bias. Her work in this area recently received the best paper award for technical and interdisciplinary contribution at the 2018 Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency (FAT*).

Thomas Cohen, Senior Social Science Analyst, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts


Dr. Cohen is a Senior Social Science Analyst at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts - Office of Probation and Pretrial Services. He is an experienced analyst with a demonstrated history of working in the judiciary industry. Dr. Cohen has published work on a myriad of topics including evaluations of individual risk characteristics, pretrial detention-release and associated pretrial misconduct, and analyses of different types of case processing procedures and techniques. Prior to his current position, Dr. Cohen worked at the Bureau of Justice Statistics as well as the Pretrial Justice Institute. Dr. Cohen received his Doctor of Philosophy from Rutgers University at Newark School of Criminal Justice. Dr. Cohen also received a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Jim Sawyer, Executive Director, National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies


Jim Sawyer is the Executive Director of the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) and leads NAPSA’s work to develop and maintain professional standards, disseminate educational programs, and engage partners at the federal, state, and local level to ensure proper implementation of pretrial services. He brings managerial and strategic planning experience from his time as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Client Relations for Security Capital Advisors, LLC. and his eight years at the National Association of Counties. Sawyer works closely with a broad coalition of academic partners, providers, and governments to develop frameworks for justice administration and the use of pretrial risk assessments.

Ilya Shpitser, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins University


Dr. Ilya Shpitser is the John C. Malone Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He received his PhD from UCLA in 2008, under the supervision of Judea Pearl. From 2008 to 2012, he was a Research Associate in the causal inference group at the Harvard School of Public Health. From 2013 to 2015, he was a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Statistics at the University of Southampton. In 2017, he received the Causality in Statistics Education prize from the American Statistical Association. His research includes all areas of causal inference and missing data, particularly using graphical models, and teasing out causation from association in observational medical data. His recent work has focused on pretrial algorithms and predictive bias, including work on the COMPAS data.

Andrea Woods, Staff Attorney, Criminal Law Reform Project, American Civil Liberties Union


Andrea Woods is a Staff Attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project. She focuses on bail and pretrial reform, litigating cases across the country tackling overreaching pretrial detention, wealth-based pretrial incarceration, the for-profit bail industry, and onerous conditions of pretrial release. Andrea co-wrote the ACLU’s national strategic plan on bail reform, and spearheaded the organization’s work on pretrial risk assessments, which the ACLU opposes. Her work has been featured in the Guardian, CNBC, the Appeal, and other various media outlets across the country. Andrea has worked in public defender offices, the anti-death penalty movement and with the Innocence Project Northwest as a law student. She was a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar at the University of Washington, graduating in 2014. Prior to joining the ACLU, Andrea clerked for the Hon. John C. Coughenour of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.