Assessing the Impact of a Police 'Cite and Release' Policy: A Natural Experiment

Terry L. Baumer, Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. - Indianapolis
Kenneth Adams, University of Central Florida

In April 2002, police agencies in a medium sized Mid-Western city eliminated an existing "must book" policy for certain minor nonviolent criminal offenses. The new policy directed police officers to issue a citation, along with summons to appear, and then release the individual without booking. This study assesses the extent of implementation and impact of this policy change on the local criminal justice system. The researchers selected all cases processed within the first six months of implementation o the new policy and a lagged comparison group of all cases of the same set of offenses processed during the same time frame in the preceding year. Measures of implementation include the proportion of eligible cases processed in compliance with various aspects of the new policy. Measures of outcome include: failure to appear rates, new arrests pending disposition, effects on the local lockup population, disposition, time to disposition, representation by counsel, and sentence. Interviews with field officers supplement the existing data.

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Updated 05/20/2006