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Criminal Justice Coordinating Council discusses arrests for failures to appear in court

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 1:36pm

District Court Judge Mark Simpson and Data Analyst Matt Cravens provided a presentation about arrests for failure to appear in court during the Sept. 8 meeting of the Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. They talked about how these arrests impact the Douglas County Correctional Facility.

Simpson began the presentation by explaining the different types of bonds and how bail is set for municipal and district courts.  He also reviewed how the state statutes direct the courts to apply bonds.

Cravens then provided the results from his analysis of a dataset of failures to appear (FTAs) for the Kansas 7th Judicial District Court and municipal courts in Lawrence, Baldwin City and Eudora. Cravens reviewed the data for FTA bookings into the Douglas County Correctional Facility. He found 21% of all bookings are for people who are only arrested due to a failure to appear warrant.  At multiple points in 2020, between 7% and 13% of the jail population was being held for FTAs only.

Additionally, Cravens found that 37% of the FTA-only bookings are for district court and 44% are for municipal court.  The remaining bookings have cases in both courts. He also noted that 9% were booked for FTAs outside Douglas County.

Cravens also found that FTAs for traffic cases account for about as many bookings into the Douglas County Correctional Facility as FTAs for criminal cases.

The Council then brainstormed solutions to increase court appearances.  The Incarceration Alternatives/Research Work Group will be tasked with exploring the following:

  • Analyze the effectiveness of electronic notification programs,
  • Improve contact data for notification,
  • For District Court, improve ease of rescheduling if court date is missed to avoid a warrant,
  • Increased access to video court,
  • Amnesty days,
  • Expand Pretrial Release program to municipal courts.

The Council decided two weeks ago to postpone the Implicit Bias training due to the rising rate of COVID-19 in Douglas County.  While the Council is passionate about completing this training in-person, they understand that this may not be realistic this fall.  It was decided to complete the training by Zoom conferencing.  A date will be scheduled with the trainer from the Summers Group.

The next Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14.

Media Contact

Karrey Britt
785-330-2894