A simulation model of pretrial felony case processing: A queuing system analysis

William McAllister; James Atchinson; Nancy Jacobs

A simulation model of pretrial felony case processing: A queuing system analysis
McAllister, William
Atchinson, James
Jacobs, Nancy
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
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Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Case processing tends to be examined with data analysis or evaluation designs. Both limit our understanding of how case processing as a whole operates and how its parts relate to each other. This article suggests queue simulation modeling as a method for dealing with these issues. We report here the initial development and analysis of a queuing model of arraignment to trial assignment. Conceptualizing on the basis of court functions and empirical findings, rather than institutional structures, we conceive a five-stage pretrial process. Using case-level, rather than system-level data, we construct a single-server, multiphase queuing model and use the model to simulate the behavior of a pretrial case processing system. Simulations show the strong impact of the final phase (trial assignment) on the entire system and that most of this impact is delay rather than service. The system is then analyzed using a factorial design that systematically alters model parameters thought to be important determinants of performance. Simulations are run for each possibility in the design, and analysis of variance is used to examine results. Analysis confirms prior results concerning final phase impact and points specifically to the import of phase capacity and exit rate. The utility of modeling is considered by suggesting some policy implications of the results for judicial staffing and behavior.
Organizational behavior
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