PerspectiveSCIENCE AND LAW

Nudging people to court

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  06 Nov 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6517, pp. 658-659
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc2495

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

New York City issues hundreds of thousands of summonses and misdemeanor arrests each year, highly concentrated in the city's poorer and minority communities (1, 2). On page 682 of this issue, Fishbane et al. (3) report that about 40% of the summonses (issued usually for infractions or violations that are classified below misdemeanors) issued in New York City in 2015 resulted in a failure to appear (“FTA”) in court, which (usually) results in an arrest warrant and a host of collateral consequences (4, 5). To increase the likelihood that a person issued a summons shows up to the mandatory court date, Fishbane et al. experimented with a number of different behavioral “nudges,” such as summons form redesign and texting different types of reminders to defendants. They found that all of these interventions decreased the FTA rate. It would be a positive step if other jurisdictions adopted these reforms. However, if the authors are correct that their study shows that FTAs are not exclusively caused by “choosing” not to appear in court, what role will that have in efforts to reform our massive and punitive criminal legal system?

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science