Eighth California County to Partner with Innovative Social Justice Software that Reduces Failure to Appear (FTAs) Incidents and Pretrial Incarceration Instances

FRESNO, CALIFORNIA, Dec. 11, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Fresno Public Defender’s Office and Uptrust the social justice text messaging communication platform, has announced a partnership to reduce the number of Failure to Appear (FTA) incidents, arrest warrants and technical violations in the county. The partnership employs Uptrust’s innovative communication service, which effectively reduces wasted taxpayer funds, improves efficiency for the county’s attorneys, and decrease the number of incarcerations for certain violations. The partnership is supported by The Heising-Simons Foundation, and is the eighth jurisdiction in California that is using Uptrust’s two-way communication platform. 

“Fresno County’s partnership with Uptrust provides an innovative way for the Public Defender to aid our clients and significantly reduce Failures to Appear in Court,” says Elizabeth Diaz, Fresno County Public Defender. “This technology helps keep people out of jail while also freeing up valuable County resources.”

The text message program reinvents the court reminder system by sending personalized text messages to each public defender client from their assigned public defender. The messages act as reminders related to the defendant’s court hearing dates and other important legal appointments. Uptrust’s trademarked, communication platform also helps defendants schedule meetings with their attorney. In the coming months, the platform will be enhanced as Uptrust will roll-out features that allow attorneys and social-workers to refer their clients to local social services. 

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 tailored to the needs of low-income defendants. 

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. In Fresno County over 5,000 people were arrested for FTAs alone last year. 

“FTAs are costly to taxpayers and to the public defender’s time. At the same time, too many people are sitting in jail, who don’t need to be there. Fresno’s public defenders see the value in making a change and we are here to help,” said Jacob Sills, founder of Uptrust. “Together, we can make a change to help those defendant clients better navigate the judicial system and bring about a swift and fair resolution for those clients.”


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 30 public defender offices around the US, 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

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