Pre-Trial Services Program

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Since 1981, the Pre-Trial Services (PTS) Program has helped to reduce jail over-crowding and costs at the Polk County jails. The overall goal of the program is to return to society those individuals who, with a high degree of certainty, will return to court at the specified time, thus helping to ease jail overcrowding.

Pre-trial Services first function is to screen defendants prior to their first appearance hearing. PTS Interviewers are present at the courthouse twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to interview the detainees via video conference call. PTS Interviewers gather as much information possible for the court.

PTS staff is responsible for conducting background investigations on defendants screened prior to First Appearance as well. The background investigations include, but not limited to, checking prior criminal records, assessing the seriousness of the current offense, attempting to make contact with alleged victims, and checking the defendant’s domestic and employment status. PTS investigations are useful tools Judges use to make informed decisions in the matters before them.

PTS are further responsible for the supervision of defendants released to the program with special court ordered conditions. An officer is assigned to each case to ensure that the defendant complies with the court order and any conditions imposed by the court. A defendant’s failure to abide by the court ordered conditions may result in the revocation of their pre-trial release and the issuance of an arrest warrant.

In 1997, PTS implemented a new program to track and reschedule court dates for released defendants who failed to appear at their arraignment. The PTS Defendant Tracker Program uses various investigative methods including information sharing with other agencies, to handle the tracking of nearly 500 cases each month. For more information on Pre-Trial Services, please call 863-534-4617, Fax 863-534-2170.

Video Remote Interviewing for Pre-Trial Services

In October of 2017, Pre-Trial Services implemented state-of-the-art remote interviewing procedures that have streamlined the way we conduct our inmate screening procedures. We began interviewing inmates via video remote instead of in person and it has proven to be a great success. Accordingly, our interviewing staff is no longer physically located within the booking facility of the Polk County Jail, we are now based in the Polk County Courthouse. Our interviewers now conduct face-to-face interviews with inmates via a remote video chat process and receive all of the arresting documents remotely through the Polk County Sheriff’s Office website WEBQ. Regarding direct communication with Polk County Jail staff, we accomplish this in several different ways. We employ a hotline and board set up to speak with the detention deputies and we communicate with the booking clerks telephonically and by email. In addition to screening inmates for release into our Pre-Trial Release program, we are also required to clear (verify the release eligibility of) all inmates booked into the county jail. Utilizing the Guardian system, we are able to provide the booking clerks at the jail 24-hour remote access to review our findings regarding all inmates’ release eligibility.

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