Why It Matters

When poor people miss court, they do not flee. Instead, they miss court because they lack transportation, could not take time off work, had to care for their children, or simply don’t keep a good calendar.

When someone fails to appear (FTA) to court, a judge issues a warrant for their arrest. The next time they encounter the police, they are jailed for at least a day, missing work, child care, and other obligations. The FTA has downstream consequences - at every subsequent appearance, they are less likely to be released on bail, which affects case outcomes.

Nationally, approximately one million people miss court dates each year. Counties spend over $9b on unnecessary pretrial incarceration, and an additional $1b issuing and enforcing FTAs.