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Does GPS Supervision of Intimate Partner Violence Defendants Reduce Pretrial Misconduct? Evidence From a Quasi-experimental Study

NCJ Number
Journal of Experimental Criminology Volume: 13 Issue: 4 Dated: September 2017 Pages: 483-504
Date Published
September 2017
22 pages
This study examined the effect that supervision with global positioning system (GPS) technology has on pretrial misconduct for defendants facing intimate partner violence charges.

Drawing on data from one pretrial services division, a retrospective quasi-experimental design was constructed to examine failure to appear to court, failure to appear to meetings with pretrial services, and rearrest outcomes between defendants ordered to pretrial GPS supervision and a comparison group of defendants ordered to pretrial supervision without the use of monitoring technology. Cox regression models were used to assess differences between quasi-experimental conditions. To enhance internal validity and mitigate model dependence, researchers used and compared results across four counterfactual comparison groups (propensity score matching, Mahalanobis distance matching, inverse probability of treatment weighting, and marginal mean weighting through stratification). The study found that pretrial GPS supervision was no more or less effective than traditional, non-technology-based pretrial supervision in reducing the risk of failure to appear to court or the risk of rearrest; however, GPS supervision did reduce the risk of failing to appear to meetings with pretrial services staff. These results suggest that GPS supervision may hold untapped case management benefits for pretrial probation officers, a pragmatic focus that may be overshadowed by efforts to mitigate the risk of pretrial misconduct. Further, the results contribute to ongoing discussions on bail reform, pretrial practice, and the movement to reduce local jail populations. Although the cost savings are not entirely clear, relatively higher risk defendants can be managed in the community and produce outcomes that are comparable to other defendants. The results also call into question the ability of matching procedures to construct appropriate counterfactuals in an era where risk assessment informs criminal justice decision-making. Weighting techniques outperformed matching strategies. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: September 1, 2017