The MCR Program saves county governments millions by relieving overcrowded jails.
An innovative program to relieve Kentucky’s overcrowded jails has saved county governments millions since it began in 2005. The Monitored Conditional Release Program assists county jails that are struggling to pay for the cost of housing defendants who are awaiting trial.
The MCR Program is operated by the Department of Pretrial Services of the Administrative Office of the Courts and is available in all 120 Kentucky counties. It is based on the premise that defendants often remain in jail because they are unable to afford bond after their first appearance in court. Pretrial officers use a standardized risk-assessment process to determine which individuals can be released with the assurance they will appear for future court dates and are unlikely to commit other crimes while their cases are pending.
Pretrial officers interview defendants charged with crimes within 12 hours of arrest. They confirm the defendant’s information through court records and discussions with family members, employers and other sources. Pretrial officers also conduct a needs evaluation and screen for substance abuse and mental health issues. This thorough assessment allows pretrial officers to recommend to the judge whether a defendant would be a good candidate for nonfinancial release under specific conditions.
The conditions vary based on a defendant’s at-risk behaviors. Some defendants are required to report regularly to their pretrial officer while others must undergo random drug testing, are subject to a curfew or home incarceration, or are ordered to maintain employment, seek counseling or obtain a GED. Pretrial officers supervise the defendants until the final disposition of their court cases.
Pretrial Services designed each county’s program around the resources available in that area. While all treatment options may not be available in every county, the pretrial officers work with local governments and community service providers to offer as many resources as possible to address the needs of the defendant.
The MCR Program allows the court system to work with local communities to save money and maintain the security of Kentucky citizens.