FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Corrie Hendrix Gambill
Rise Pilots New Civic Technology to Reduce Jail Incarceration
YourSTLCourts Goes Live to Empower People Facing the Court System
St. Louis, May 1, 2017—Two years after being awarded a Civic Tech and Data Collaborative Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Rise Community Development (Rise) is launching YourSTLCourts.com. The pilot program provides a road map for people to navigate the municipal justice system.
YourSTLCourts puts St. Louis County Municipal Court records into one, no-cost, mobile-friendly online portal where people can easily access their traffic ticket information, rights in court, court locations, operating hours, and procedures. The program also includes a text message-based notification system to remind people of their upcoming court date.
With a better understanding of their rights, St. Louis County court users are empowered to keep minor offenses from escalating unnecessarily, potentially avoiding a costly legal situation, inflated traffic fines or incarceration. Using YourSTLCourts.com, people can look up their traffic ticket information online to prepare for court.
“We are glad to see St. Louis County working with YourSTLCourts to get more information to those who are involved with their municipal court,” said the Honorable Douglas R. Beach, St. Louis County Circuit Judge, Division 6.
“Our courts exist to serve our citizens; fairly and without regard to race or income bracket,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. “We are pleased St. Louis County is the initial focus area for YourSTLCourts, a St. Louis-developed technology that introduces a better way to access municipal courts.”
In 2015, the Civic Tech and Data Collaborative awarded Rise a grant to cultivate the St. Louis Civic Technology and Data Collaborative (CivTech St. Louis) improve the experience low-income people have with the municipal courts through the use of civic data and technology. In 2016, St. Louis County and UMSL received a Safety and Justice Challenge grant from the MacArthur Foundation to reduce the average daily jail population, allocating a portion of it to develop YourSTLCourts.
Civic technology is a growing movement amongst developers, in which innovation and open data is used to solve social and civic challenges. In 2015, GlobalHack, a St. Louis organization, which builds solutions through software competitions, was enlisted to put the area’s best coders to task over a three-day competition. The winning technology became the prototype for what is now YourSTLCourts.com.
“Technology is the logical answer to a number of today’s challenges,” said John Cruz, Data Management Coordinator for Rise—the lead partner for YourSTLCourts. “Technology solves problems. While not a complete solution in the world of criminal or social justice reform, it is a much needed step in the right direction.”
Rise (www.risestl.org) is a nonprofit organization that partners with communities to build stronger, more equitable St. Louis area neighborhoods. Rise as a community lender, develops affordable and market-rate housing, particularly in neighborhoods with the potential to enhance economic diversity, and provides capacity-building technical assistance to community-based development organizations. Rise also maintains a variety of data and mapping for areas throughout the St. Louis region as well as assisting in the collection and creation of new data specific to a particular development or neighborhood.
About CivTech St. Louis
YourSTLCourts is a product of the St. Louis Civic Tech and Data Collaborative (CivTech St. Louis), the local chapter of Civic Tech and Data Collaborative. The national collaborative is a joint project of Living Cities, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and Code for America. It is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.