Release: Benton County implements notification system to remind defendants about court

From Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 12:34 p.m.

In cooperation with law enforcement partners, the district attorney’s office, and courts, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) will begin using a new software program and making in-person phone calls this week to notify defendants about upcoming court dates or hearings.

These efforts are an attempt to reduce the failure to appear rate for Benton County Circuit Court hearings.

The system is similar to what many health care providers use to notify clients about appointments. Clients who have a case in pre-trial status may receive up to three notifications through a phone call, text message, and/or email. The first notification is sent two days before the court hearing, and the second one is sent on the day of the hearing.

“We hope this notification system will reduce our failure to appear rate, which is the top reason people are issued citations for warrants in Benton County,” said Sheriff Jef Van Arsdall. “It’s a tool to help defendants succeed while creating a degree of accountability.”

In 2020, Benton County law enforcement officials arrested 5,115 people. The most common charge was failure to appear, which accounted for 30 percent of those arrested.

BCSO Jail Sergeant K. Hunnemuller is overseeing the pre-trial program and also believes the new notification system will help reduce the failure to appear rate in Benton County. “This program is proven throughout the United States to be successful and I am excited to get this program up and running.”

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