More than 20 percent of all pretrial detainees in Maine are in jail because of failure to appear (FTA) for a court date. This bill provides funding to establish a text message-based court notification system, saving Maine valuable resources by increasing the likelihood that people show up for their court dates.
The most successful and cost-effective way to reduce FTA is through court notification programs. These messages to defendants reminding them when and where they need to go to court - inspired by the automated appointment reminders that doctors and dentists have used since the 1990s - have been implemented across the country with great success. Research shows that court notification programs often reduce FTA rates by as much as 50 percent, and can even achieve FTA rates as low as 4 percent. Additionally, ‘court date reminders’ have been shown to be more effective in reducing the number of defendants who fail to appear for a court date than the use of cash bail.