Hastings, C., Thomas, C., Ostermann, M., Hyatt, J.M., & Payne, S. (2021). Reducing Missed Appointments for Probation and Parole Supervision: A Randomized Experiment with Text Message Reminders. Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing.
Research Question Can text message reminders reduce missed appointments with probation or parole officers by clients under community supervision? Data In collaboration with Arkansas Community Corrections (ACC), 4,000 clients under community supervision were selected and tracked for attendance at scheduled supervision meetings from October 1, 2018, through April 15, 2019, with a test sample of 3,470 clients scheduled to attend 14,135 appointments assigned at random to different conditions of appointment reminders. Methods Marquis Software, under contract to ACC, randomly assigned the test sample to one of four conditions of text messages generated by company software: control (no text messages before appointments), early text ( 2 days before the appointment), late text ( 1 day before the appointment), and two texts (both 1 day and 4 days before the appointment). Marquis then abstracted the records of appointment attendance by treatment group, for analysis by the academic co-authors. Findings During the 6-month experiment, the best attendance was found in the treatment group assigned to late text reminders 1 day before the appointment. That group had 29% fewer no-shows and 21% fewer cancelled appointments than the control group during the experiment. In a subsequent rollout of the late text treatment to all of the clients still under supervision, the entire remaining group had 30% fewer missed appointments compared to the control group during the experiment. Conclusions Text messages reminding clients to attend parole and probation officer meetings can reduce missed appointments, with potentially substantial reductions in imprisonment due to technical violations of community supervision conditions.