Most pretrial defendants released to the community return to court

We tracked successful appearance rates for all people arrested, assessed for risk, and released during the pretrial period. The vast majority (79 percent) of defendants with low or low-moderate risk scores returned to court for all required court dates after being released back to the community.

Although most defendants are successful during the pretrial period, it is important to understand why some people fail to appear in court. First, more than half (58.5 percent) of people with a low risk score who missed a court date later returned to court on their own. Second, although the reason for each failure is not explicitly provided, the court docket suggests that defendants sometimes get confused about court dates and are unsure if their presence is required. One plan by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative to change the way America thinks about and uses jails (of which Vera is a partner organization) is to expand the court notification system so that the courts can clearly communicate important court date information to defendants via voicemail and text message.

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