Ventura County Public Defender’s Office Launches Effort to Reduce Jail Population

Innovative Software Text Message Service Will Reduce Failure to Appears (FTAs)

VENTURA, CA, April 03, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ventura County Public Defender’s Office has entered into a partnership with Uptrust, a criminal justice-focused text message communication and reminder service, to reduce the number of Failure to Appear (FTA) incidents, arrest warrants and technical violations in the county. 

The partnership is expected to reduce costs for Ventura County by improving efficiency for attorneys as well as decreasing the number of incarcerations for violations such as FTAs.

Uptrust and the Ventura County Public Defender will work together under an agreement that will ensure all public defender clients receive text reminders for their court dates. The trademarked Uptrust platform connects public defenders’ offices with defendants via text message to remind them to show up at court and other scheduled legal appointments. 

Local governments spend more than $9 billion on unnecessary pretrial incarceration, and an additional $1 billion issuing and enforcing FTAs. Further, bench warrants have been shown to become expensive and wasteful of both taxpayer and law enforcement’s time and funds. 

To date, Uptrust’s messaging system has reduced FTAs by more than 50 percent in some jurisdictions, with 30 percent of users texting back to their attorney, continuing the correspondence. The platform provides a communication and reminder tool similar to many modern dentist or doctor appointment applications. 

“As we expand our services for both defendants and public defenders, we are keeping the family in mind in order to change behavior in the short and long term,” said Jacob Sills, founder of Uptrust. “Most defendants who miss court failed to appear for a variety of reasons. Modern technology allows for helping those defendants avoid unnecessary incarceration, while also saving taxpayer funds and public defenders’ time.”


Uptrust is a text message-based communication and engagement tool helping defendants arrive at court for their scheduled hearings and other mandatory appointments. By improving the relationship  between the criminal justice system and defendants, Uptrust has proved to keep low-income defendants out of jail on bench warrants and technical violations, while also saving attorneys time and reducing the cost to the municipality or county. Uptrust currently is contracted  with  more than 15 public defender offices around the US, and reaches over 100,000 defendants. Uptrust is a public benefit corporation supported by the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, RFK Human Rights and the Heising-Simons Foundation; it has offices in San Francisco, CA and Northampton, MA. To learn more about Uptrust, visit

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