Pretrial Supervision Software: Improving Court Appearances

pretrial supervision software, maximizing court appearance rates, reducing rearrests

Pretrial Supervision Software: Improving Court Appearances


Traditional methods of ensuring court appearance after someone has been charged with a crime often involve locking them up in jail. However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards rethinking pretrial policies and practices in order to increase appearance rates and reduce incidences of rearrest before trial. This article explores the findings of research conducted by Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research (APPR) on pretrial monitoring and location monitoring, as well as the use of court notifications to improve court appearance rates. Additionally, the article highlights the lack of research on common pretrial monitoring conditions and practices, and the impact of drug testing on pretrial outcomes.

Pretrial Monitoring: Improving Court Appearance Rates

Pretrial monitoring, also known as pretrial supervision, involves maintaining contact with individuals to ensure they comply with court-ordered conditions of release. Research has shown that pretrial monitoring can significantly improve court appearance rates. Studies have found that people who were monitored had higher appearance rates compared to those who were not monitored. For instance, in Orange County, California, the appearance rate for monitored individuals was 67 percent, while the rate for non-monitored individuals was 54 percent.

Pretrial monitoring is particularly effective for individuals assessed as less likely to succeed pretrial. Statistical assessment tools can determine the likelihood of success, and when these individuals are part of a monitoring program, their appearance rates can increase from 80 percent to 90 percent.

However, the impact of pretrial monitoring on reducing pretrial arrests remains uncertain. Studies have not shown a significant decrease in new arrests among individuals not detained before trial. In Philadelphia, a study found that monitored and unmonitored individuals had similar arrest-free rates of 87 percent.

Location Monitoring: Inconclusive Effects on Pretrial Outcomes

Location monitoring, often associated with ankle monitors, is used to ensure compliance with geographical conditions of release. The research on location monitoring and its effects on pretrial outcomes is inconclusive. Some studies have found that individuals on location monitoring are more likely to appear for court or avoid pretrial arrest, while others have found no significant impact. More rigorous research is needed to draw clear conclusions.

Any improvements resulting from location monitoring are small, as most individuals already successfully appear for their court dates and avoid new arrests before trial. With high compliance rates already in place, the costs and labor required for implementing location monitoring may not be justified.

Furthermore, location monitoring has been shown to lead to increased technical violations, such as unauthorized absences or tampering with equipment. These violations can unnecessarily draw individuals into the criminal justice system. Additionally, individuals assessed as most likely to succeed pretrial are at a higher risk of failure when location monitoring is a condition of release. Intervention resources should be prioritized for individuals who truly need assistance in succeeding pretrial.

Research on the use of GPS monitoring in domestic violence cases has yielded mixed results. While some studies have shown a lower likelihood of arrest for another domestic violence offense with GPS monitoring, others have found no statistically significant impacts. It is crucial to consider the due process concerns of the accused when implementing GPS monitoring and ensure that it serves a specific purpose.

Drug Testing: Limited Impact on Pretrial Outcomes

The widespread use of drug testing in pretrial programs has not been shown to have a clear association with improved pretrial outcomes. Randomized controlled studies have produced inconsistent results regarding the impact of drug testing on court appearance rates and pretrial arrests. More rigorous research is necessary to understand the effects of drug testing fully.

The impact of noncompliance with drug testing on the likelihood of pretrial failure is also uncertain. Some studies have found that failing a drug test does not necessarily indicate a higher likelihood of arrest before trial or missing a court date. In fact, one study showed that individuals who tested positive for drugs during pretrial release had a higher success rate compared to those who never tested positive.

Considering the costs associated with drug testing, it becomes important to evaluate its effectiveness critically. Drug testing can be expensive, and without strong evidence showing its impact on pretrial outcomes, these costs may be difficult to justify. Additionally, drug testing can lead to poorer pretrial outcomes for individuals assessed as more likely to succeed pretrial. Intervention resources should be targeted towards those who truly need assistance.

Court Notifications: Enhancing Appearance Rates

Court date notification systems have proven to be effective in increasing court appearance rates. Studies have consistently shown that any type of court reminder can improve appearance rates. Notifications that state the consequences of missing a court date have been particularly effective. Including tips on how to plan ahead for a court date can also enhance appearance rates.

Live contact, such as in-person phone calls, has been found to produce the largest increases in appearance rates. However, even leaving a message on voicemail or with a responsible adult has been shown to improve outcomes. The use of court notifications has financial and nonfinancial benefits. It helps the criminal justice system avoid unnecessary costs associated with issuing warrants, police apprehensions, jail bookings, and court hearings. Moreover, it allows individuals to avoid unnecessary arrests and detention, contributing to a fairer system.


As counties and states continue to reimagine the criminal justice system, maximizing court appearance rates and reducing rearrests before trial are key goals. Pretrial monitoring has been shown to improve court appearance rates, particularly for individuals less likely to succeed pretrial. However, the impact of pretrial monitoring on reducing pretrial arrests remains uncertain.

On the other hand, location monitoring has inconclusive effects on pretrial outcomes and can lead to increased technical violations. It may not be worth the cost and labor required for implementation, especially considering the high compliance rates already in place.

Drug testing has not shown a clear association with improved pretrial outcomes and can lead to poorer outcomes for individuals otherwise likely to succeed. The costs associated with drug testing should be carefully evaluated.

Court notifications have consistently been effective in increasing court appearance rates. Live contact, such as in-person phone calls, produces the largest improvements, but even leaving a message can have a positive impact.

In order to create a fairer and more effective criminal justice system, further research is needed to understand the effectiveness of pretrial monitoring practices, location monitoring, and drug testing. By implementing evidence-based policies and practices, the goal of maximizing community well-being and safety while reducing failure-to-appear rates can be achieved.

The JED™ Platform is committed to providing innovative pretrial supervision software that supports the criminal justice system’s goals. With a focus on Judicial Evaluation Data (JED™) evidence-based practices,  JED™ aims to enhance court appearance rates and reduce rearrests, promoting a fairer and more effective pretrial processContact us today at (888) 4-JED-365