CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, May 3, 2021

Brough on Transportation Subsidies and Failures to Appear

Rebecca BroughMatthew FreedmanDaniel E. Ho and David Phillips (University of Notre Dame, University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics, Stanford Law School and Wilson Sheehan Lab for Econonomic Opportunities, Department of Economics) have posted Can Transportation Subsidies Reduce Failures to Appear in Criminal Court? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The failure to appear (FTA) for a scheduled court hearing can have serious consequences for a criminal defendant. Many have speculated that transportation is a material barrier to court appearance. We provide evidence from the first randomized controlled trial of transportation subsidies to reduce FTAs, conducted jointly with public defenders and the transportation authority in Seattle, Washington. The most intensive intervention was a transit card providing 2-3 months of free public transportation. We find little evidence that transportation subsidies reduce FTAs. The treatment group had a similar FTA rate as the control group, and we can rule out with 95% confidence that transit subsidies reduced the FTA rate by more than six percentage points. While transportation subsidies might be more effective in reducing FTAs if combined with other supportive services or outreach, our results suggest that transportation subsidies alone have limited benefits for this aspect of criminal justice.

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