Model & Strategy

Millions of people are jailed every year because they miss court. When poor people miss court, they do not flee. Instead, they miss court because they lack transportation, could not take time off work, had to care for their children, or simply don’t keep a good calendar. A failure to appear (FTA) results in incarceration that can be avoided 99% of the time.

When someone fails to appear (FTA) to court, a judge issues a warrant for their arrest. The next time they encounter the police, they are jailed for at least a day, missing work, child care, and other obligations. The FTA has downstream consequences – at every subsequent appearance, they are less likely to be released on bail, which affects case outcomes.

Uptrust eliminates FTAs, bench warrants, and the resulting incarceration. They provide a win-win to all stakeholders: measurable financial savings and huge social benefits to your community by sending text message reminders to attend court and other obligations. Text messages have 98% open-rate, much better than phone calls from anonymous numbers or mailed letters that often don’t reach the recipient.

At a Glance
Founded: 2015
Co-Founder & CEO: Jacob Sills
Co-Founder & CTO: Elijah Gwynn
Social Justice
Location of work: Domestic, West Coast
Uptrust
3981 25th Street
San Francisco, California 94114
Connect. Engage. Appear.
Meet Jacob Sills

After working in private equity and investment banking, Jacob Sills’s passion for criminal justice reform led him to start Uptrust. Jacob believes that innovation, efficiency and kindness will solve our greatest criminal justice issues. Jacob received his B.A. from Cornell University and his M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to joining Uptrust, Elijah Gwynn was a full-stack software engineer at the Match Group (OkCupid) and applications developer at the NYC Department of Public Health. Elijah has 10+ years of experience building web applications using C, C++, Python, PHP and JavaScript. Elijah studied Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Impact

Between 15% and 20% of low-income clients miss court without the benefit of personalized reminders.

Uptrust decreases the court failure to appear (FTA) rate by at least 50% with a concomitant decrease in arrest warrants issued for FTA violations.

A key factor in Uptrust’s success is their ability to engage low-income clients and humanize the pretrial process. Over 30% of defendants text back, and the number one response is “Thank you.”

Uptrust is working with 15 counties that represent over 150,000 low-income defendants. Based on its pipeline, Uptrust expects to reach upwards of 1M defendants by 2020.

  • RT @theappeal: News: NYC public defenders decry Gov. Cuomo's efforts to roll back bail reform as COVID-19 spreads. "It is widely known that…
  • "There is absolutely no justification for placing lives of entire population groups in jeopardy simply because they… https://t.co/zhW1CPlGvW
  • Why a judge's decision to set bail can be the equivalent of a death sentence with #COVID19 rapidly spreading in our… https://t.co/wnQIQdRfBa
  • Heartbreaking & avoidable. https://t.co/Nog18MeCoL
  • "She said that bc she was home pre-sentencing, she had been able to make changes in her life...rather than deterior… https://t.co/uQH8G5MMdz
  • “People building products haven’t thought about [people effected by the criminal justice system]…or if they have, t… https://t.co/LAR1rAnQME
  • “We do not charge the end-user & we will never charge them; all businesses in the space have made money on the back… https://t.co/GJsJi7ZjCO
  • We are excited to announce new funding that allows us to improve our product and expand our reach! Looking forward… https://t.co/90XouVUuPF
  • From @TulsaCountyPD: "Our partnership w. Uptrust has already had a big impact just in the 1st year. Our failure to… https://t.co/a1U5gLqWdQ
  • Thank you to @theappeal for highlighting this important issue. https://t.co/BYVXR83LqW
  • Congratulations to one of our partner sites @pbcgov for being selected by @safety_justice for this prestigious hono… https://t.co/EslMDMLLOA
  • RT @BronxDefenders: THREAD Since NY’s historic pretrial reforms were implemented on Jan 1st, 400+ clients we represent in the Bronx have be…
  • RT @myrwu: "The cash bail system in this country has created nothing short of a human rights crisis," said Robin Steinberg of @bailproject,…
  • RT @Pretrial: “It’s important not to set people up for failure. As a system, we sort of dare them to keep the appointment rather than suppo…
  • RT @WisconsinSPD: Thank you to the State Senate for a 33-0 vote to provide merit pay funding for WI Public Defender attorneys. Appreciate…
  • RT @NACoTweets: #NACoBlog: With @Safety_Justice, NACo will support 13 #counties from across the country w/creating strategies to address ju…
  • RT @NLADA: California to add $14 Million for supporting #PublicDefense. "The settlement is a considerable step toward ensuring that the Six…
  • RT @NAPD2013: "We’re having a hard time with public defenders staying on the job, and almost all of them universally report they’re leaving…
  • RT @DanMcGraw1: As it bans holding defendants on bail for nonviolent crimes, New York is the latest state to challenge America’s bizarre sy…
  • We would like to introduce our new VP of Engineering, Matthew Root! In 2019 we grew from just 3 people to a highly-… https://t.co/Yag0VP2RFF