Lowered Failure to Appear in Criminal Cases Through Free Rideshare Transportation: an RCT Pilot
Failure to appear (FTA) in a criminal court case is costly for both the State and the defendant. Research shows defendants miss their court hearings for numerous reasons other than an intent to avoid prosecution. While several studies have shown success in reducing FTA rates through interventions such as clarifying court forms and reminding defendants of appearance dates and times, there are no studies addressing a defendant’s lack of transportation to the courthouse. However, researchers have demonstrated success in reducing missed medical appointments by offering free transportation; ironically, it may be that the offer of free transportation, not the use thereof, is enough to reduce missed appointments. This study tests the hypothesis that the offer of free transportation through a rideshare app will reduce the FTA rate in criminal proceedings in the Cambridge and Malden Courthouse. The randomized controlled trial pilot proposed here will enroll approximately 800 participants, 400 in the control group and 400 in the treatment group. The primary outcome will be the FTA rate at the participant’s court hearings. Secondary outcomes will involve the length of time a case takes to disposition and the success of the defendants in their case.