The company, which makes technology to help defendants avoid unnecessary jail time, is going live in Ventura County, Calif., while preparing to launch in three others in a push toward the state's highly populated south.
Uptrust, a startup working to reduce incarceration by helping defendants get to court, is rapidly signing new California counties as customers.
The company has introduced its product in Ventura County, and will soon launch in the counties of San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Solano as well. Together, the four counties are home to nearly 3.8 million people.
Uptrust’s work is relatively simple: It establishes a channel through which public defenders and the people they represent can communicate, and it texts reminders to the defendants about when they need to be in court. The company has noted a decrease in failure-to-appear violations in the places it’s launched, which should help defendants avoid unnecessary jail time and save counties money they would otherwise spend on the jailings.
“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 Uptrust Founder and CEO Jacob Sills in a press release. “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.”
This isn’t Uptrust’s first foray into California; it has already worked with Contra Costa and Yolo counties. But San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura all represent a push into the more populous southern part of the state.
All told, Uptrust is working with 24 public defenders’ offices, of which it is fully operational in 15, according to a spokesperson for the company.