Does it pay to ensure bail? An RCT on the effects of bail cost-sharing

Last registered on November 07, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Does it pay to ensure bail? An RCT on the effects of bail cost-sharing
Initial registration date
November 04, 2021

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 07, 2021, 4:26 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Texas A&M University
PI Affiliation
Texas A&M University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
There is growing evidence that pretrial detention worsens both criminal justice and labor market outcomes: for those on the margin of being detained while awaiting trial, pretrial detention increases the likelihood of conviction and decreases both employment and the receipt of government benefits (Dobbie et al., 2018; Stevenson, 2018, Leslie and Pope, 2017). Many who are detained pretrial would be released if they could post bail; not being able to afford bail might then have detrimental long-term consequences that are costly to that individual and to society. As those detained are predominantly low-income individuals, posting bail becomes a significant financial shock. One possible solution to this is bail cost-sharing: for a monthly fee, individuals will be guaranteed that bail will be paid quickly upon arrest. We conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of bail cost-sharing on individual outcomes, such as incidence of arrest and days incarcerated.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Doleac, Jennifer, Hanna Hoover and Chelsea Temple. 2021. "Does it pay to ensure bail? An RCT on the effects of bail cost-sharing." AEA RCT Registry. November 07.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Enrollment in the bail-cost sharing program
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Employment outcomes, wages, and details of interaction with the criminal justice system (arrest, being placed in jail, pre-trial release, posted bail amount, crime committed, sentencing information).
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The research team will send a letter (attached) to the potential subjects via email, offering the opportunity to
participate in the study. If interested, individuals will be directed to a website (visit This website will include information about the study, and will invite individuals to enter their first name, last name, and preferred email address if they would like a link to the Qualtrics survey.

The survey asks for basic identifying information, including first and last name, date of birth, gender, race, ethnicity, zip code, phone number, and email. The survey also asks information on employment, relationship status, and criminal justice contact. At the beginning of the survey, individuals will read an informed consent document (attached) with all of the necessary information. If they wish to proceed with the study, they will click "next" on the Qualtrics screen to go to the survey.

For participating in the survey, individuals will be entered into a random drawing to win one of ten $50 Target gift cards. Individuals may also be randomly assigned to receive an invitation to participate in the bail cost-sharing program. Completion of the survey is required to be entered into the random drawing for a $50 Target gift card. Individuals are not required to purchase the bail cost-sharing service in order to be eligible for the gift card.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will occur through the Qualtrics survey software
Randomization Unit
Randomization occurs at the individual-level
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Texas A&M University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number