Improving Criminal Justice Outcomes for the Extremely Disadvantaged in Shasta County, California


This project evaluates two interventions aimed at reducing failure to appear (FTA) rates among people likely to be experiencing homelessness. First, we will test if direct outreach by the Shasta County Superior Court, via text message, can increase court appearances. Second, we will partner with local service providers, who will add reminders to their messaging infrastructure for their clients. Individuals in both treatment groups will receive similar reminders, which closely mirror effective reminders used in prior studies. The case-level FTA rates of 450 individuals facing misdemeanor charges will be compared to the FTA rates in a control group of 150. We will also examine any change in subsequent service use and court involvement. We anticipate having power to detect reasonable differences in treatment arms after two years of implementation, with a follow-up period of two months, and four months for the completion of the analysis. Our project will inform efforts to reduce FTAs in a population facing specific and unique needs, which has been excluded from existing evaluations. We will also provide some of the first experimental evidence on the phenomena of “system avoidance,” where people may respond to cooperation between courts and service providers by avoiding formal record-keeping institutions. 

RFP Cycle:
SLII RFP VI [July 2020]
United States of America
  • Emily Owens
  • Carly Will Sloan
  • Pilot project