PSA's History

In 2012, Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia (PSA) celebrated its 45th anniversary as an agency serving the nation’s capital. PSA was among the handful of pioneer pretrial agencies established in the 1960s. The work of PSA started under the auspices of the D.C. Bail Project in 1963 with a Ford Foundation grant. It was formalized as an agency under the Executive Office of the Mayor with the passage of the Bail Agency Act in 1967, the name was changed to the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency in 1978, and again in 2012 to its current name. PSA is now an independent entity within the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (PSA). PSA was established by the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 and was certified as a federal agency under the Executive Branch in August 2000.

It is of foremost importance to note that PSA’s governing statute precludes us from supervising surety bail releases in the D.C. Superior Court and we are among a minority of pretrial agencies in the nation that do not recommend financial bond. We adhere to the standards set forth by the American Bar Association, National District Attorneys’ Association, and National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, which strongly encourage the use of non-financial release, the use of financial release only when non-financial options are not sufficient to ensure appearance and the abolition of commercial surety bail. PSA is in the forefront of achieving these national standards.

PSA assists judicial officers in both the D.C. Superior Court and the U.S. District Court by formulating release recommendations and providing supervision and treatment services to defendants which reasonably assure that those on conditional release return to court and do not engage in criminal activity pending their trial and/or sentencing. As a result of performing these tasks, unnecessary pretrial detention is minimized, jail crowding is reduced, public safety is increased and the pretrial release process is administered fairly. PSA is a widely recognized national leader in the pretrial field. PSA’s pretrial drug testing and innovative supervision and treatment programs are regarded as models for the criminal justice system. Innovation, effective use of technology, and the development of human capital lead to organizational excellence, transparency, high professional and ethical standards, and accountability to the public.

Read more about PSA's role in the criminal justice system.