Re-imagining public safety
If you miss or run late to a court hearing, you could find yourself in jail. A Failure to Appear (FTA) is a crime that can result in months of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines, yet the court process makes avoiding FTAs difficult:
- Court cases can stretch out over years, requiring someone to appear at court hearings repeatedly or face the consequences
- People are often told of their next court date without even a slip of paper to remember by
- Court hearings are scheduled during working hours, requiring people to miss work or get childcare to attend
- Hearings can be scheduled months after the original arrest
- Unpredictable traffic and slashed Metro service makes public transportation unreliable and running late commonplace
You can face additional charges for being even five minutes late to a court date. Even if you make five or six court hearings in a row, missing the next one can result in an FTA. And to make things worse, there’s NO easy, automated way to even check what your court date is!
California has the biggest FTA problem of any state. Los Angeles County has an FTA rate of 45%, three times the rate of most places in the country. A misdemeanor FTA can result in six months in county jail and $1,000 in fines, or three years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 as a felony.
As residents suffer from incarceration before facing the stand, we understand failure to appears as a failure of justice.
Studies have shown that simple reminders have been successful at reducing FTAs and helping people appear in court, such as postcards or text messages. A postcard reminder program in Cook County reduced FTAs by 25%. New York’s text court reminders reduced FTA rates by 26%. In Nebraska, court date reminders significantly reduced FTAs – in some cases by more than 90%. And an automated robodialing system in LA County was shown to be effective at getting people to appear in traffic court.
The 2008 Court Appearance Reminder System uses robo calls to remind people to appear in traffic court. It’s only used in traffic court, and only for people whose cases have been sent to collections– targeting people who owe the County money. Even this limited program reduced traffic FTAs by 22%.
In partnership with the JusticeLA coalition, F4GI launched a court notification tool that provides free court hearing reminders throughout Los Angeles County. F4GI’s tool builds upon models that have been proven to be effective in jurisdictions around the country. This new court notification system, unlike its predecessors, services any court case in the LAC court system and provides multiple court reminders via instant message.
Free SMS Reminders in English and Spanish 7 days, 3 days, and 1 day before your court date
Automatic updates if your court date changes
Add a friend's or a chosen family member's phone number as backup
Does NOT communicate with the Los Angeles or California Court System
Does NOT sell or share your data with any third party and NEVER tracks your location
Courtreminders.org aims to reduce the damage that FTA’s have on the communities that already bear the disproportionate burden of incarceration, and reduce the number of people held in jail before their trial due to uncertainty around court appearances.
The rate of FTAs in LA County
The time it takes a judge to issue a FTA
The reduction of FTAs in NY from a SMS based tool
The typical cost of bail in LAC
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