Reducing Courts Failure to Appear Rate A Procedural Approach

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This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Reducing Courts Failure to Appear Rate A Procedural Justice Approach. Brian H Bornstein Alan J Tomkins Elizabeth M Neeley. This project was supported by Award Number 2008 IJ CX 0022 awarded by the National Institute of Justice. Office of Justice Programs U S Department of Justice The opinions findings and conclusions or. recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author s and do not necessarily reflect those of. the U S Department of Justice, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Reducing Courts Failure to Appear Rate A Procedural Justice Approach. Brian H Bornstein Alan J Tomkins Elizabeth M Neeley. Failure to appear FTA is a significant problem in the nation s courts This paper. examines the effectiveness of using different kinds of written reminders to reduce. misdemeanants FTA rates Misdemeanants n 7865 in 14 Nebraska counties were randomly. assigned to one of four conditions prior to their court date no reminder control reminder only. reminder with information on the negative consequences of FTA reminder sanctions or. reminder with information on sanctions as well as the procedural justice benefits of appearing. reminder combined A subset of defendants n 452 was also surveyed after their scheduled. court date to assess their perceptions of procedural fairness both in general and regarding. participants specific court experience and their level of trust confidence in the courts. Reminders significantly reduced FTA overall and more substantive reminders were. significantly more effective than a simple reminder Specifically the FTA rate was 12 6 in the. control condition 10 9 in the reminder only condition 8 3 in the reminder sanctions. condition and 9 8 in the reminder combined condition The FTA rate was higher for some. categories of misdemeanors than others and for defendants with multiple charges 15 4 if two. or more charges versus 5 4 for one charge The baseline FTA rate was higher for Blacks. 18 7 than for Whites 11 7 and Hispanics 10 5 but this difference was not statistically. significant when controlling for other factors such as number of offenses and type of offense. Survey results indicated that misdemeanants trust confidence assessments as well as. their perceptions of procedural justice were related to their appearance in court Defendants who. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. appeared in court had higher institutional confidence and felt they had been treated more fairly. by the criminal justice system means 3 23 and 3 52 respectively on a 5 point scale than non. appearers means 3 02 and 3 23 respectively Institutional confidence and procedural justice. were themselves highly correlated Defendants with low trust in the courts were less likely to. appear than those with higher trust when there was no reminder but this relationship was not. statistically significant when there was a reminder. The study has important implications for public policy and pretrial services such as. improving system efficiencies and increasing criminal defendants perceptions of procedural. justice We recommend that courts especially in larger jurisdictions adopt a reminder program. for defendants and engage in outreach to increase offenders trust confidence. This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice of the U S. Department of Justice 2008 IJ CX 0022, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Table of Contents,Table of Contents 1,Table of Tables 2. Table of Figures 3,Acknowledgments 4,Introduction 5. Study Overview and Hypotheses 8,Participants 9,Materials Design and Procedure 11.
Results 13,Phase 1 13,Case disposition 14,Factors Associated with FTA 15. Differential effectiveness of reminders 17,Phase 2 19. Trust Confidence Procedural Justice and FTA 20,Benefits and costs of FTA 25. Discussion 27,Summary of Findings 27,Limitations and Future Directions 28. Implications for Criminal Justice Policy and Practice 31. Conclusions 33,Papers and Presentations Based on Our Findings 35.
References 38,Appendix A Postcard Reminder Conditions 44. Appendix B Invitations Informed Consent Documents and Survey Instrument 47. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Table of Tables, Table 1 Failure to Appear Rate by Experimental Condition 14. Table 2 Dispositions for Those Who Appeared 14, Table 3 Failure to Appear Rate by Race Ethnicity 15. Table 4 Failure to Appear Rate by County and Urban Rural Areas 16. Table 5 Failure to Appear Rate by Offense Type 16, Table 6 Failure to Appear Rate by Number of Offenses 17. Table 7 Failure to Appear Rate by Race Ethnicity 18. Table 8 Trust Confidence and Procedural Justice Scales 19. Table 9 Trust Confidence and Procedural Justice Scale Correlations 21. Table 10 Trust Confidence and Procedural Justice Scale Means by Race Ethnicity 22. Table 11 Logistic Regression Failure to Appear as a Function of Trust in Courts and Reminder Condition 23. Table 12 Reasons for Appearing Not Appearing in Court 25. Table 13 Summary of Potential Time and Labor Benefits from One FTA Reduction 26. Table 14 Total Per Unit Postcard Cost 26, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not.
been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Table of Figures, Figure 1 Failure to Appear Rates by Race Ethnicity 18. Figure 2 Failure to Appear Rates as a Function of Trust in Courts and Reminder Condition 23. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Acknowledgments, This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice of the U S Department of. Justice 2008 IJ CX 0022 We are deeply grateful to our grant manager at NIJ Linda Truitt for her guidance. and attention throughout the project We also appreciate the helpful suggestions we received from Bureau of. Justice Assistance and Bureau of Justice Statistics staff members at the project startup. We could not have conducted this research without the assistance of numerous court personnel. throughout the state of Nebraska We would especially like to thank the staff at the Administrative Office of the. Courts particularly Sherri Dennis and Ross Johnson and Clerk Magistrates in the 14 counties where we. collected data We greatly benefited from the support of the Nebraska Minority Justice Committee. We are grateful for the research assistance of Caitlin Cedfeldt Nicole Hutsell Lindsay Klug Jennifer. Li Sucharitha Rajendran and Maria Warhol and for the collegial contributions of Dr Lisa PytlikZillig and Dr. David Rosenbaum We are particularly indebted to Dr Mitchel Herian the project manager and Joseph Hamm. the graduate research assistant for their considerable efforts in making the project run smoothly throughout its. duration Administrative support from the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center particularly Jenn. Elliott has been invaluable We appreciate the efforts from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Office of. Sponsored Programs particularly Gene Hogan and Jeanne Wicks. The opinions findings conclusions and recommendations expressed in this report are those of the. authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U S Department of Justice For correspondence please. contact Brian Bornstein Dept of Psychology University of Nebraska Lincoln NE 68588 0308. bbornstein2 unl edu, This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Reducing Courts Failure to Appear Rate A Procedural Justice Approach. Introduction, For the law to be effective people must obey it Caldeira 1986 Tyler 2006b Although the law. frequently involves elements of coercion in practical terms the legal system has at best a limited ability to. compel people to obey the law e g Rottman 2007 Tyler 1997a 1997b 1997c 2006b Voluntary acceptance. minimizes the need of authorities to explain and justify each decision reduces the need to monitor. implementation and limits the expenditure of scarce resources to ensure compliance e g Robinson Darley. 1997 Tyler 2006a, One area of the criminal justice system where compliance is particularly lacking is in individuals.
response to orders to appear in court for relatively minor offenses such as traffic offenses misdemeanors and. low level felonies Non custodial criminal defendants often fail to appear for court This occurs for all kinds of. mandated appearances arraignment pretrial post arraignment hearings trial and post trial Initial i e. arraignment failure to appear FTA rates for non waiverable offenses are particularly problematic as they. involve the greatest volume of defendants Many if not most of these individuals are not detained prior to trial. Goldkamp White 2006 VanNostrand Keebler 2009 There are a number of alternatives to pretrial. detention VanNostrand Keebler 2009 the most common of which for minor offenses is simply to release. individuals in the community with little if any government oversight placing the burden to appear in court. entirely on defendants themselves Goldkamp White 2006 Not surprisingly this can result in substantial. failure to appear FTA rates FTA rates vary depending on jurisdiction and offense type ranging from less. than 10 e g Cuvelier Potts 1997 VanNostrand Keebler 2009 to as high as 25 30 e g Davis 2005. Helland Tabarok 2004 McGinty 2000 These failures to appear are costly for both the court system and. defendants Levin Kennel Pellegrino Simmons Surett 2007. This document is a research report submitted to the U S Department of Justice This report has not. been published by the Department Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author s. and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U S Department of Justice. Following the example set by the medical profession e g Larson et al 1982 several courts have. effectively implemented court reminder programs designed to reduce FTA rates Cozier 2000 O Keefe 2007. White 2006 see generally The Court Brothers 2010a For example the Cook County IL Juvenile Court s. postcard reminder program reduced the failure to appear rate from 38 to 13 Rohan 2006 Similarly an. evaluation of Coconino County AZ showed a reduction in the percentage of failures to appear at initial. appearance in adult misdemeanor cases from over 25 to less than 13 when the defendant was called in. advance and reminded of the hearing date White 2006 Reminder programs in Arapahoe County CO. Jefferson County CO and Multnomah County OR have also increased appearance rates and realized. substantial labor and financial savings Arapahoe County Justice Center 2010 Jefferson County Criminal. Justice Planning 2006 O Keefe 2007 The potential of reminder programs has even spawned a national. reminder call business for courts The Court Brothers 2010b. Although the results of such reminder programs are promising none has incorporated social scientific. theory or research methodology to study the matter systematically that is comparing different types of. reminders to determine which ones are more less effective The present study uses principles of procedural. justice to test the effectiveness of different kinds of written reminders. Procedural justice theory has developed from scholars desire to understand the process related factors. that influence individuals acceptance of outcomes and decisions from authorities even when those outcomes. may not be favorable to the individual Individuals are more likely to accept adverse outcomes and follow. unwanted directives when they perceive the process to be procedurally fair e g Hegtvedt Johnson Ganem. Waldron Brody 2009 MacCoun 2005 Thibaut Walker 1975 Tyler 2006a Walker et al 1974. Reducing Courts Failure to Appear Rate A Procedural Justice Approach Introduction For the law to be effective people must obey it Caldeira 1986 Tyler 2006b Although the law frequently involves elements of coercion in practical terms the legal system has at best a limited ability to compel people to obey the law e g Rottman 2007 Tyler 1997a 1997b 1997c 2006b Voluntary

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