Text notices help with court reminders 

By Sahar Chmais
A texting innovation should help residents when it comes to court dates and payment.
The Hays County Criminal Justice Committee has kicked off the new program that sends text message alerts to remind residents about their court responsibilities.
“We are all endlessly trying to make our courts as efficient and effective as possible as part of our mission to a better system for all departments in Hays County,” said Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Beth Smith. “The courts have been waiting patiently for our technology company to add the text notification system.”
About 1.5 years ago, the committee, which is chaired by Hays County Commissioners Lon Shell and Debbie Ingalsbe, decided to create this program for efficiency. The first and only court using the program is JP2 because it was the first to experiment with the program for six months. Soon, Smith said county courts at law, district clerk and felony courts will begin using the program. Before they can begin to use it, they will need to undergo training.
The overall consensus from the courts has been positive, Smith said. Additionally, in the week the system has been implemented, nobody has opted out of the text message reminders. Residents have the choice not to receive these reminders as some people may get annoyed, or some have limited text message plans.
Having this program has been a great help in getting people to appear in court because sometimes people simply forget, Smith said. Sometimes residents choose monthly payment plans and those can also be easy to forget if you do not get an email or invoice, she added.
Before the program took off, there were some technical issues, Smith said, but all known issues were fixed prior to the program’s release.
“This is an innovative, automated step, and I’m so proud of our team for being on top of technology that helps the constituents that we serve,” Smith told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch.


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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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