History of Pretrial Services in Santa Clara County

Pretrial release originated in Santa Clara County with the Judiciary in 1969. A pilot program was federally funded to develop innovative solutions to local criminal justice problems. The services were created to provide the information necessary for the court to make informed decisions regarding possible release. The County’s Pretrial Release Program was established and after the federal grant expired, the County assumed fiscal responsibility for pretrial services.

In 1974, The Office of Pretrial Services (PTS) expanded to include supervised release, otherwise known as Supervised Own Recognizance Release or “S.O.R.P” or “Supervised O.R.” Pretrial Services Officers began monitoring defendants’ compliance with the court-ordered release conditions and report back to the courts on compliance or noncompliance.

In 1998, PTS began on-site urine testing for drug and alcohol detection. Using strict chain of custody procedures, qualified lab technicians and confirmation testing, Pretrial Services Officers can report drug/alcohol testing results to the Court with proven accuracy.

Also in 1998, PTS began its electronic monitoring program (EMP) as an option for pretrial release. In these cases, pretrial detainees wear a GPS ankle bracelet for tracking or home detention and/or a Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) ankle bracelet for alcohol monitoring.  Both options are an alternative to jail. More information can be found under the Supervision Services tab in Electronic Monitoring (EMP) section.

In 2017, PTS and the District Attorney’s Office implemented a misdemeanor diversion program under the Santa Clara County Community Accountability Program.  More information can be found under Supervision Services tab in Diversion section. 

Over the years, PTS has collaborated with the Department of Behavioral Health and other public safety and justice agencies to find alternatives to incarceration for behavior health offenders. All agencies attempt to identify this population early in the court process and effectuate safe releases back into the community with linkages to services.

The Office of Pretrial Services offers comprehensive pretrial release options to the judiciary and provides early intervention services for the pretrial detainees thereby benefiting the community without compromising public safety.​​​

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