New App Could Save Tulsans Money, Keep Some Out Of Jail

Tuesday, February 7th 2017, 10:48 pm
By: News On 6

Failure to appear in court is a common problem with consequences for the offender, not to mention taxpayers.

But, a group of volunteer computer programmers is coming to the rescue; and it could save people money, and, even some jail time.

It can be hard for someone to remember their court date, and if they forget, an arrest warrant is issued and their bond is tripled.

That's where some computer coders come in.

Right now, Tulsa County runs on a pretty outdated system to let people know when they need to appear in court.

Assistant Public Defender Jill Webb said, "When they get out on bond, they're handed a small piece of paper, and that's it."

A small piece of paper is the only thing reminding people of their court date.

If they don't show up they get arrested and put back in jail. Many times, it's simply because they forgot.

"When that bond is tripled, and then they're put back in jail, they lose their job if they had it, they lose their house if they had it because they live really close to the edge. So missing that court date is a big deal," Webb said.

That's why Code For Tulsa, a group of computer programmers, came together to develop an app called CourtBot. Once it’s finished, the app will send out text reminders of court dates.

The coders have been working on it for about four months, for free.

"It's all volunteer - nobody's getting paid for any of this,” said Philip Kin with Code for Tulsa.

Kin and his team said when they're finished, other cities and counties will be able to use the app, too.

"You know, the world isn't always the place you want it to be, but you can…when we come here and do this work, we're changing that one little corner that we can change," Kin said.

Code for Tulsa said their version of CourtBot should be up and running within a few weeks.