Douglas County Criminal Justice Services began using a new software program, CE Pretrial, in December to notify defendants about upcoming court dates. The system is similar to what many health care providers use to notify clients about appointments.
Clients who have a case in pretrial status receive two notifications through a phone call or text message. The first notification is sent two days before the court hearing, and the second one is sent on the day of the hearing.
There have been 964 reminders sent by voice message and 105 sent by text message between Dec. 3, 2018, when the program started, and Jan. 10, 2019.
“We hope this new notification system will reduce our failure to appear rate, which is one of the top reasons people are placed in the Douglas County Correctional Facility,” said Robert Bieniecki, Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinator. “It’s a tool to help defendants succeed and increase their success.”
In 2017, 5,353 were booked into the Douglas County Correctional Facility and the most common charge was failure to appear, which accounted for 28.6 percent of them.
Pam Weigand, Director of Douglas County Criminal Justice Services, also believes the new notification system will help reduce the failure to appear rate in Douglas County. “I am excited that this program is up and running.”
Douglas County Commissioners approved the CE Pretrial software in spring 2017. The cost of the system is $7,500 annually.