June 13, 2023

Behind the Scenes at STVL – Criminal Justice

Fundamental problem:

The United States accounts for over 20% of the global incarcerated population[1], despite representing only 4% of the globe’s total population[2]. Incarceration has detrimental effects on an individual’s economic progress: having a criminal record reduces the chances of receiving a callback or job offer by almost 50%[3]. Inadequate resources and systems in policing and due process directly contribute to mass incarceration.


A majority of 911 calls are non-criminal in nature. This means law enforcement is frequently dispatched and expected to address social issues like mental health problems, addiction, homelessness, and other behavioral health challenges. In response to this and in partnership with MIT Solve, STVL ran the Unbundle Policing Accelerator to develop and support alternative solutions to traditional models of policing. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies use antiquated tools that hinder their ability to perform their tasks effectively: 40% of law enforcement agencies were using technology that was more than 10 years old as of 2017[4]. To give law enforcement the tools they need, STVL invested in ForceMetrics, a data analytics platform that provides the necessary tools and data for police to make informed decisions.

Due Process

Over 70% of defendants in the United States are represented by a public defender, leading to a high caseload of over sixty cases at a time for each defender[5]. Moreover, the increasing prevalence of audiovisual evidence means that public defenders often must review several hours of evidence for a single case. To address this challenge, STVL invested in JusticeText: an audiovisual evidence translation tool specifically designed for public defenders. In 2022, the company translated over 5,000 hours of audiovisual evidence, saving public defenders on average 72 minutes per case.

Additionally, individuals typically spend over two months awaiting trial and must comply with several requirements during this period[6]. Failure to meet these requirements often leads to pretrial detention, which accounts for an estimated 26% of the incarcerated population in the United States[7]. The DOJ found that individuals who had been detained for even three days prior to their trial increased their likelihood of conviction by 13%[8]. To tackle this, STVL invested in Uptrust, which provides text message reminders to individuals awaiting trial of their requirements. The company is active in over 200 counties and has been shown to reduce the failure to appear rate by over three times – likely preventing over 100,000 individuals from pretrial detention.

How can you get involved?

STVL invests in companies like ForceMetrics, Uptrust, and JusticeText that seek to solve the highest priority challenges across policing and due process. STVL remains dedicated to this space and would welcome the opportunity to continue investing in opportunities tackling these challenges and partnering with other groups seeking to do so.


[1] National Institute of Corrections data

[2] Census data

[3] Harvard Study: Barriers to Employment Facing Young Black and White Men with Criminal Records

[4] National Criminal Justice Reference Service

[5] Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases

[6] Urban Institute

[7] Institute for Justice Research & Development

[8] Department of Justice Study: Reducing Courts’ Failure to Appear Rate