Case Study: Supporting Individual Agency in the Pretrial Release Process

October 12, 2018
Case Study: Supporting Individual Agency in the Pretrial Release Process
Author: Urban Institute
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This case study presents the experiences of two counties as they implemented communication strategies focused on engaging pretrial detainees in securing optimal pretrial release and successfully navigating the pretrial release period. Durham County sought to remind anyone released before trial about their court dates by signing them up for a user-friendly web-based service. The share of people who failed to appear in court dropped 6 percentage points from September 2017 to May 2018. Santa Clara County executed a multimedia campaign to inform detainees about nonmonetary release options and reduce overreliance on money bail. The number of non-monetary releases increased and monetary bail releases declined, although this could be due to other reforms. Durham and Santa Clara counties developed effective messages, sought the input of defendants and family members, and used multiple avenues to reach the intended audience.