Court Texting Program Shows Success
TULSA, Oklahoma - The City of Tulsa will soon implement a program that texts offenders reminders about fines. Tulsa is one of the first cities in the state to test this program and the city has had a lot of success.
Through this program, the City found that most people simply forgot to pay their fines. So now they believe they've found a cost-efficient way to get the message across.
“It’s a positive step forward,” said Court Administrator, Kelly Brader. “We are helping the citizens help themselves."
The City of Tulsa Municipal Court issues nearly 22,000 time-to-pay orders to people who owe money for criminal or traffic cases every year, and nearly 70% of those people forget to pay which leads to nearly 16,000 failure-to-pay warrants.
“We just simply would say okay you have six months and then we wouldn’t contact them again and I said surely if we remind them maybe people would respond and they did," said Brader.
Between March and September of this year, The City of Tulsa sent out two different text message reminders to citizens to warn them that a payment was coming up.
One was friendly, The other was more stern saying "failure to pay or appear may result in a warrant," and some didn't get a message at all.
63% of those who got a text message paid their fines compared to only 48% who didn't get a reminder.
“It’s low cost, it’s easy to do and everyone has a cell phone," said Brader.
The city estimates even this 15% difference could add nearly $190,000 of revenue back into the budget every year. But not only is it adding to the budget, it could also save the city money.
Brader says usually when people don't pay, they have to suspend someone's license or issue an arrest warrant, which is costly for the city.
“We don’t want to put people in jail,” said Brader. “We would rather people take care of this, so they can move forward with no issues."
Brader says they are still doing the texting program on a limited basis at this point but they do plan to grow the program to other areas in the near future.