Individuals often face difficulties in life that cause appointments to be missed, which includes appointments like court dates. When a defendant misses a scheduled court date it could result in a warrant, but aside from that they waste the court system both time and money.
Some jurisdictions are using a text or SMS notification system to combat the no-show issue. New York City has seen great response to these reminders. They saw a decrease of failure-to-appear of 26 percent.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio explained, “Little reminders can make a big difference, and these text messages will help people avoid a missed court appearance – and a warrant that could eventually lead to spending a night in jail. We’ve found that these gentle nudges help New Yorkers remember when and where their court appearance is and reduce failure-to-appear rates, and that progress is a great step toward a fairer justice system.”
Defendants receive a reminder notification that is tailored to the contact information they provided at the time of arrest or citation. If the defendant provided a landline number, then three days before their scheduled court date they would receive an automated call. Additionally, on the date of their court appearance they would receive another reminder between 6am and 10am. If the defendant provided a cell phone number, they are sent a text message 2 days before their scheduled hearing and then again on the morning of their appearance.
Like New York, Montgomery County, Ohio is looking at the idea embracing SMS technology in hopes to get less failure-to-appear cases. Last year alone, the county had more than 7,000 defendants miss their hearings.
Mike Foley, who is the new Clerk of Courts for Montgomery County, explained that, “One of the items we’re looking into is text reminders, and I know some other counties around the state have been doing this and have been successful.”
Another issue the county hopes the text reminders can address is that of notifying the defendant of which courthouse their appearance is taking place. Melissa Tuttle, who works in the Clark County’s Clerk of Courts in Ohio, explained that, “A lot of people come to our courthouse and they know they have an appearance but between our two courthouses don’t know where they are supposed to be. If they had a text alert, they would know what courthouse, what courtroom and what time.”
It’s important to save the court system costs, but Mike Foley also pointed out that it has the potential to get people in and out of the court system quicker. This is a win for both sides.
This SMS technology is also being leveraged in other industries such as healthcare. Kettering Health Network recently completed a transition to incorporating text messages as a part of their appointment reminder system.
Here at Extract we understand that both time and money are valuable resources within the court system. We have been working in the government and, more specifically, the court system for nearly 20 years, and have redacted over 4 billion pages with zero reported data privacy breaches. Montgomery County, for example, utilizes our redaction product, ID Shield to automatically remove sensitive information (SSN, employer identification numbers, DOB, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers) from court documents. If you are interested in learning more about the solutions we offer, you can check us out here. The full Montgomery County case study can be accessed here.
About the Author: Taylor Genter
Taylor is the Marketing Specialist at Extract with experience in data analytics, graphic design, and both digital and social media marketing. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater. Taylor enjoys analyzing people’s behaviors and attitudes to find out what motivates them, and then curating better ways to communicate with them.