Innovative Software Will Reduce Failure to Appears (FTAs) and Reduce Costs

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Nov. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office and Uptrust, the social justice text messaging communication platform, has announced a pilot program to reduce the number of Failure to Appear (FTA) incidents, arrest warrants and technical violations in the county. The partnership employs Uptrust’s enhanced communication service, aiming to reduce costs, improve efficiency for the County’s attorneys, and decrease the number of incarcerations for certain violations. Uptrust and the Public Defender’s Office are implementing this pilot program in Santa Barbara County with support from the Heising-Simons Foundation of Los Gatos, Calif.

“This innovative collaboration highlights the power of private/public partnerships, with the goal to empower clients to successfully navigate pre- and post-trial obligations and reduce failures to appear,” said Deepak Budwani, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for the County of Santa Barbara Public Defender. “Little reminders can make a big difference, and these text messages will help people avoid a missed court appearance. Working with Uptrust to reduce FTAs is part of our holistic client-focused approach, identifying the challenges our clients face and how we can work with them to overcome these obstacles.”

Through the pilot program, defendants will receive text reminders for their court dates and other important legal appointments. Uptrust’s trademarked platform connects public defenders’ offices with defendants via text message to remind them to appear at scheduled legal appointments, most specifically their court hearings. Uptrust will also help defendants schedule time to meet with their attorney. Uptrust will soon roll-out features that allow attorneys and social-workers to refer their clients to local services. This tech-enabled, re-imagining of the pretrial process should lead to greater compliance that in turn will save money. 

Nationwide, 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 be a cost burden on public funds and of 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, benefitting communications between the parties. The platform provides a communication and reminder tool similar to many modern dentist or doctor appointment applications. The pilot program is supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation. 

“We commend all the holistic defense efforts that the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office has achieved, and we aim to bolster that client-focused work,” said Jacob Sills, founder of Uptrust. “Too many people are sitting in jail and don’t need to be there. Our technology will help Santa Barbara County save both taxpayer funds and public defenders’ time, and give defendant clients better support in the judicial system.”


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 25 public defender offices around the U.S., and reaches over 200,000 defendants. Uptrust is a public benefit corporation supported by the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, RFK Human Rights, Schmidt Futures and the Heising-Simons Foundation; it has offices in San Francisco, CA and Northampton, MA. To learn more about Uptrust, visit 



Contact Data