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Promising Early Results from CJA’s Court Appearance Support Pilot Project (CASPR)

Posted on Sep 23, 2019

by Tiffany Bergin (Deputy Director of Research) and Elizabeth Seigle (Senior Planner)

The Court Appearance Support Project (CASPR) was a voluntary intervention developed by the New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) to serve defendants at an elevated risk of failing to appear for court. Piloted in Brooklyn in in December 2018 – May 2019, the CASPR intervention was targeted at individuals not recommended for release on their own recognizance through the current CJA risk assessment instrument but who were released on their own recognizance by the judge. Eligible individuals who agreed to participate would sit down for a post-arraignment meeting where CJA staff would ask them about potential obstacles to come to court and invite them to write down their court date. If the individual agreed, a CJA staff member would also provide a personal planning phone call a week or two prior to the individual’s first post-arraignment appearance. Defendants and defense attorneys seemed eager to receive these services, with early results indicating that 87 percent of defendants who participated in the brief post-arraignment meeting agreed to the planning phone call.

CASPR was developed through a unique collaboration between a CJA research team (led by Dr. Russell Ferri) and operational teams (led by Elizabeth Seigle, Kim Moment, and Richard Azzolino). Preliminary results are promising, with the case-based FTA rate for individuals given this intervention only 14 percent, compared to 20.4 percent for the control group. In other words, the intervention was associated with a 31 percent reduction in FTA for this high-risk group. In this analysis, the treatment group was defined as individuals whom CJA interviewed post-arraignment and attempted to contact for the planning phone call (n = 257). The control group was defined as a matched sample of individuals who only received the usual court date reminder phone calls and messages from CJA (n = 887). A key lesson learned from the pilot was the need to assign professional staff to the project full-time, to ensure fidelity in implementing the intervention. Overall, the pilot’s promising results indicate that CASPR may be an effective approach for assisting defendants at risk of failing to appear for court.

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