Public defenders plan texts to remind clients of court dates

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Public Defender’s office plans to experiment with sending text messages to defendants reminding them of their court dates in an effort to reduce the number of people in jail.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the project is designed to ensure defendants don’t face jail time for missing court dates. The program will begin in St. Louis, Columbia, Jefferson City, Troy and Kennett.

In some Missouri courts, if defendants don’t show up at scheduled court hearings or other legal appointments, their absence has led to failure to appear charges and jail time. They sometimes received bills to cover their time in jail.

Under a new state law going into effect later this month, courts won’t be able to jail people for failing to pay previous jail debts.

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