“We’re excited to have such a strong collection of financial supporters that also perceive the untapped opportunity to build tools to impact lives but at the expense of communities impacted by mass incarceration," said Jacob Sills, co-founder of Uptrust.
SAN FRANCISCO (PRWEB) March 03, 2020
Uptrust, the San Francisco-based technology company fighting mass incarceration, announced today that it has completed a $1.3 million fundraising round. Since its founding in 2017, Uptrust has secured partnerships with more than 50 new jurisdictions and now works with 40 percent of the 15 most populated counties in the United States, and reducing FTA (Failure to Appear) rates by 50 percent in certain jurisdictions. The financing round — comprised of a combination of grants and investment — allows Uptrust to broaden both its engineering and sales capabilities, and to service the growing number of government customers seeking and pursuing assistance in reducing jail populations. The investment will also improve the Uptrust best-in-class product, which ensures people attend mandatory appointments in the criminal justice system by reminding them of their obligations and connecting them to relevant social services.
“The odds should not be stacked against millions of Americans who get involved with the justice system. Uptrust is making a course correction through technology in the most obvious way: enabling communication and support through mobile devices that we all use and rely on every day,” said Jordan Blashek, Director at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt. “We are pleased to support Uptrust as it expands upon its mission to keep people out of jail that shouldn’t be there.”
Millions of Americans have gone to jail because of a missed court date or probation check-in, which may result in a revocation of previously imposed bail conditions or a new criminal charge in certain jurisdictions. The downstream effects of these small mistakes are huge: many judges and prosecutors fail to release individuals after subsequent interactions with law enforcement when not confident that a person will show up for all of their future court dates, or judges set an unaffordable bail amount, also resulting in jail. Incarcerating these individuals results in a staggering amount of government waste. As a result, local governments spend more than $9 billion on unnecessary pretrial incarceration, and an additional $1 billion issuing and enforcing FTAs.
Created in 2016, Uptrust’s product initially focused on improving communication between public defenders and clients through text messages. The level of need for Uptrust’s software has proven to be larger than initially expected. Through more than 50 state and county government partnerships across the Country plus the U.S. Territory of Guam, Uptrust has reduced FTAs by 50 percent in many of its jurisdictions, saving millions of dollars of taxpayer funds, and ultimately keeping productive citizen lives in tact. The new funding will help expand that number to support more than 150 jurisdictions and one million defendants by the end of 2020.
“Uptrust is building a differentiated and sustainable business by creating value for all stakeholders in the system, and we’re excited to invest in its continued growth,” said Tony Davis, an investor in Uptrust and founder of Inherent Group, a leading ESG investor. “Municipal customers save money that can be redirected toward other needs. Criminal justice and law enforcement professionals gain back the hours spent dealing with the fallout of FTAs. And most importantly, low income individuals navigating the justice system receive a tool that helps them meet their commitments — while avoiding the burden of fees that most for-profit enterprises have historically charged them.”
Uptrust’s goal is to eliminate all technical violations in the criminal justice system without expanding the use of surveillance and supervision. Providing an easy-to-use, modern mobile experience for the tens of millions of low-income Americans who have interacted with our country’s legal system goes a far way in achieving this goal. Part of this new funding will improve Uptrust’s product, including the launching of the new Uptrust mobile app for public defender clients. Clients will be able to message multiple stakeholders (such as their attorney and social worker) and learn about local opportunities such as free or reduced transportation to court and expungement clinics.
“Community organizers and advocates have done an incredible job at educating the broader public and key stakeholders about the problems associated with pretrial detention and money bail. We at Uptrust are trying to do a small part by building technology products that enhance those efforts and allow local jurisdictions to decarcerate without expanding the use of supervision or electronic monitoring,” said Jacob Sills, co-founder and CEO of Uptrust. “We’re excited to have such a strong collection of financial supporters that also perceive the untapped opportunity to build tools to impact lives, but not at the expense of communities impacted by mass incarceration.”
Uptrust is a communication and engagement tool helping the indigent accused arrive at court for their scheduled hearings and other mandatory appointments. By improving relationships within the criminal justice system, Uptrust has proven to keep low-income individuals charged with crimes out of jail on bench warrants and technical violations, while also saving attorneys time and reducing the cost to the municipality, county or state. Uptrust currently is contracted with more than 50 jurisdictions and public defender offices around the US, and intends to increase the number to over 100 in early 2020. The platform reaches over 500,000 individuals. With offices in San Francisco, CA and Northampton, MA, Uptrust is a public benefit corporation supported by the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, RFK Human Rights, Schmidt Futures, Inherent Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation. To learn more about Uptrust, visit http://www.Uptrust.co.