Evaluation of Early Case Resolution
Study Dates: 2012 – 2014
Study Description: The Early Case Resolution (ECR) Court pilot program was developed as a systemic approach to address challenges faced by the criminal justice system in Utah through a collaborative partnership of state and local agencies. By identifying lower level cases that were eligible for expedited processing, ECR Court aimed to: (1) increase the speed of processing for all cases filed in Third District Court; (2) provide the ‘same justice sooner’; (3) provide criminal defendants with appropriate sentences and treatment services; and (4) reduce recidivism rates. Results from this three-year study of ECR Court indicate that:
- Case processing time was decreased for criminal cases in Third District Court as a result of ECR and the procedural changes that accompanied its implementation.
- ECR cases received differential sentences for similar types of crime, rather than the ‘same justice sooner’. Even after controlling for group differences, ECR cases received more lenient sentences (e.g., lower supervision level, shorter probation length, fewer jail days) than non-ECR cases.
- Although not lower risk on the LSI-R alcohol and drug domain, fewer ECR cases were ordered to complete substance use disorder (SUD)-related services at sentencing. The same trend was also observed at defendants’ first post-sentencing hearings for non-compliance, where fewer ECR cases were ordered to complete SUD-related services, even though they were not less likely to have committed a drug or alcohol violation.
- Although typically sentenced to shorter probation terms, ECR cases were more likely to be terminated unsuccessfully from probation and were terminated more quickly than non-ECR cases. ECR cases also recidivated more quickly and more often than non-ECR cases; however, the relationship between ECR participation and greater recidivism was reduced for some outcomes when risk to recidivate (as measured by the LSI-R) was included in the predictive model.