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Community Supervision, Jail Overcrowding

Bristol Herald Courier recently highlighted how Sullivan County’s pretrial release program looks promising. Pretrial release is becoming a new norm as jails shift from having people just sitting in jail to being on house arrest or electronic supervision. So far, Sullivan County has had success in their pretrial release program as individuals have been compliant and friendly according to Officer Brandon Ferrell. The program was created the prior year in an effort to help reduce overcrowding, as Sullivan County jail was ranked the most overcrowded large jail in the state in 2019. The program is managed by two teams, with five officers working out of the office at the jail determining who can be released and preparing them for it and then the other team works in the community checking in on the released individuals.


With COVID-19 continuing to influence jail populations, more and more individuals have been selected for the program, with 91 being released in March, totaling 165 individuals released since January. Judges have been more inclined to release individuals during these times knowing the program is in place and has showed positive results. They are pushing to release individuals to reduce overcrowding in facilities and to keep facilities compliant with safety protocols in place for COVID-19. In one way, the pandemic has instigated positive change in the jail because it has pushed judges to trust the program and not hesitate on releasing individuals into supervision.


“Once you get in the [criminal justice] system, it’s so hard to get out,” Officer Ferrell said. “We’ve got to do something to help people that can’t seem to get back on track.” 


TRACKtech was created to do just this. It is imperative that individuals in the criminal justice system receive more support to get back on their feet and stay out of the system, as it is very hard to do. Rehabilitative measures need to be taken instead of punitive as they are proving to be more successful. TRACKphone provides this support through rehabilitative programs and resources on the phone. TRACKcase provides officers the ability to check in with individuals remotely through biometric identification and video conferencing, as well as has real time location monitoring and geofencing capabilities so officers can easily check on them. The phone also has calendar and appointment reminder capabilities, so individuals are less likely to miss appointments or court dates because they forgot about them. TRACKtech provides an alternative solution to individuals being in jail and taking up resources, time and risking exposure to COVID-19, all while allowing officers to monitor them efficiently and safely.

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Jail Overcrowding, Justice Reform

Recently, a coalition of criminal justice reform groups have come out with a list of recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Slowly, inmates and prison employees are beginning to test positive for the fast spreading coronavirus. Because of this the reform groups have created a plan referred to as “SAFER”. They are fighting to suspend jail time for technical violations and suspend probation office visits and payments of fines. They are encouraging the adoption of smart alternatives to incarceration. And they are pushing to provide free medical visits and treatment, hand sanitizer, soap, and protective gear to help prevent the spread. Extra precautions for guards and staff are being initiated and the release of the elderly and vulnerable to home confinement is being advocated for. 

 

“People in prisons, jails, or under community supervision are more at risk of contracting and spreading the virus, given their age, underlying health conditions, and close contact to each other”, says Jessica Jackson, Chief Advocacy Officer at REFORM Alliance. Protecting inmate populations is just as vital to stopping the spread of coronavirus and keeping communities safe. REFORM Alliance created “SAFER” in the hopes of helping to do this as it was developed in consultation with medical and justice system experts. COVID-19 is continuing to spread quickly and it is in the best interest of communities to not allow prisons and jails to become hot spots for the virus. 

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Community Supervision, Public Safety

Like you, TRACKtech is closely monitoring the constantly evolving situation, both internally and externally, as it relates to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Though there is significant uncertainty, we remain committed to supporting the industry we serve by providing solutions that focus on the health and safety of the corrections agencies, staff, clients and public. We understand that our ability to assist you in facing these challenges, is critical and we stand ready to step in with that assistance wherever we are needed.

 

With the recent quarantines and lockdowns, exploring innovative community supervision is more important than ever. Officers need tools to effectively supervise their clients and to provide them with access to rehabilitative resources and support in a socially responsible manner.

 

Thankfully, leveraging technology, officers can adapt to the speed of rapidly changing circumstances, and safely connect with clients to keep them on track with remote meetings, check-ins, and other online services. And with partners such as Cisco, rapid deployment is available to implement remote communication.



Take a look at how technology is moving forward to continue making a difference in individuals’ lives during a crisis like this.
CLICK HERE FOR OUR SOLUTION

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

The coronavirus crisis has already taken a toll on an individual’s mental health and addictions. While being self-quarantined, we encourage you to stick to your recovery plan with the help of online resources, including the following.

RECOVERY DHARMA ONLINE – https://recoverydharma.online/
Recovery Dharma Online organizes daily meetings accessible via computer, smartphone, or dial-in. Together we meditate, study Buddhist teachings, and support each other on our paths to sobriety and peace.

SOBER RECOVERY FORUMS – https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/
Your guide to alcoholism drug addictions help and information. SoberRecovery.com is a community of over 168,000 recovering alcoholics, recovering addicts, recovering co-dependents and their friends, family and loved ones.

IN THE ROOMS – https://www.intherooms.com/home/live-meetings/
In The Rooms hosts over 130 live video meetings every week for AA, NA, SAA, CPA, ACA and CODA.

ANXIETY – 7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – Create a safety plan.

COVID-19 RESOURCE CENTER
John Hopkins University has a COVID-19 Resource Center to help answer all your coronavirus questions.

What is Social Distancing and How Can it Slow the Spread of COVID-19

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself

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Justice Reform

A recently published article poses the question, “Could limiting the number of cases a parole officer handles improve the criminal justice system?  ” The Senate Judiciary B Committee has already passed a piece of legislation, which would limit the number of cases that parole officers are able to take on.” Many parole officers are overworked and in charge of too many cases. For each case, the parole officers must keep track of the whereabouts of their parolees, make sure they are not violating any location restrictions, and ensure they are attending mandatory appointments and meetings. 

However, many states do not limit the number of cases a parole officer can be assigned. The new legislation would not allow for them to have over 100 cases. This would help ease the frustration parole officers feel trying to keep up with their cases and being overworked. Many parole officers want to help rehabilitate people but cannot help to their fullest capacity due to being overwhelmed. Limiting the number of cases will help with this issue, allowing parole officers to focus on getting people re situated in society and improve criminal justice reform.

TRACKtech, LLC is working to reduce stress on parole officers by offering a platform for them to easily manage and help their program members. We are working smarter, using technology to make the jobs of parole officers easier and more manageable. Our platform offers geofencing, so officers are immediately alerted if members are in restricted territory. Officers can also set automatic check-ins to ensure their program members are where they are supposed to be, whether that is in therapy or at job interviews. These check-ins use biometric identification, reassuring officers that it is the program member with the device. Finally, our platform offers video conferencing allowing remote meetings and calendaring/reminders so no appointment is forgotten. TRACKtech enables case workers to monitor all their program members efficiently and in a timely fashion, which allows them to focus more heavily on those that are not compliant without neglecting others. 

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Justice Reform

Criminal justice reform initiatives are aimed at fighting to reduce mass incarceration and the suffering incarceration has on populations. An article published by Forbes talks about improving the lives of millions and saving money by investing in criminal justice reform. According to the article, 6% of GDP ($1.2 trillion) goes to the direct cost of incarceration. They focus on bringing attention to the sustainable movements that hopefully will lower this number. 

There are many different parties involved with prisons and the care of prisons. Forbes brought attention to the statistics that roughly 4,000 companies profit off of incarceration, whether that be through investments or initiatives through the prison systems. Many companies profit off of bails and incarceration or post-incarceration fees. Some Fortune 500 companies have even been known to make a profit off prison labor, opposed to the inmates. As this helps these companies, it is detrimental to prisoners and the prison system in general. Money is being taken out of the prison system to pay companies. 

Another dilemma faced is prison exclusion versus engagement. Strategic engagement with publicly traded companies includes anything from meetings to shareholder investments. Private prison operators usually hold the responsibility of working with companies like this to make a profit or provide services to stand out. All of these are based on social factors, that in the end if improving the criminal justice system were to prevail, would result in major societal benefits. The prisoners and former prisoners would be able to have more rewarding lives and the government would save billions that goes towards incarceration.

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Press Release, Recidivism

TRACKtech CEO, Michael Hirschman and a leading academic in the field of criminal justice, Joe Russo, were guests on Ryan Warner’s Colorado Public Radio (CPR) show, Colorado Matters.

 

Hirschman and Russo spoke about the pros and cons of current electronic tracking devices and how technology is changing the community corrections industry.

 

Listen to their interview and hear how TRACKtech is paving the way for positive change and reducing recidivism.

 

Colorado Matters, hosted by Ryan Warner, is CPR News’ daily interview show which focuses on the state’s people, issues and ideas.

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Justice Reform

The NFL’s new campaign, Inspire Change, is tackling necessary improvements in communities, whether that be through the need for local resources or to help foster positive relationships. These are two examples of the many issues they are battling to change. The NFL recognizes that people have different meanings when it comes to social justice. It defines theirs as being “committed to conversations and actions that move us towards a more equal and just tomorrow”. That is why they launched Inspire Change in January of 2019. 

 

Inspire Change is a “platform to showcase the collaborative efforts of players, owners and the League to create positive change in communities across the country and ensure that equal opportunity becomes a reality for all”. The platform works with the Players Coalition, NFL teams and the League office to support programs and initiatives that reduce barriers to opportunity in society. It is focusing on three priority areas that include education and economic advancement, police and community relations and criminal justice reform. Funding is provided from the League, clubs and players. 

 

Just like the Inspire Change platform, TRACKtech is dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system and impacting social justice. Through our rehabilitative resources, we strive to help at-risk populations such as justice involved individuals, the homeless population and addicts become healthy members of society. Our online case management system and TRACKphone allow for case managers to monitor and support program members by checking in with them regularly through biometric identification and video conferencing. With behavioral health resources, TRACKtech is working to make a difference in peoples lives and working towards the same positive changes as Inspire Change.

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Justice Reform

Those released from incarceration are faced with many struggles after their release. They hope for change and redemption, and fear that they will not be accepted back into society. These fears are compacted by the way they are portrayed in society. The Board of Supervisors in San Francisco intends to clean up the language used in the criminal justice system. The city and county of San Francisco received a proposal that would cause words such as “felon,” “offender,” “convict,” and “parolee” to be exchanged for more accepting language that does not emphasize the objectification of people, and focuses on more neutral and positive ways to describe these individuals.

Instances of more acceptable language is “returning resident” or “formerly imprisoned/incarcerated person”. Instead of calling someone a “parolee” they would be called a “supervised individual.” A “young offender” or “delinquent” would be described as a “young individual affected by the judicial system.”

With one in every five Californians having a criminal record, this change of language can make a drastic difference. There is a stigma attached to such language that can be incredibly dehumanizing. They want to return to their families and contribute to their communities, but are facing so many barriers hindering their rehabilitation. The Board of Supervisors believes wording with negative connotations should not be one of those barriers. The proposal stresses that “Language shapes the ideas, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and actions of individuals, societies and governments. People-first language places the individual before the criminal record by using neutral, objective, and non-pejorative language.”

The Sentencing Commission, the Reentry Council of the Bay Area, and the Youth Commission of San Francisco – a group of 17 youths aged 12 to 23 – passed resolutions supporting the altered language. However, the proposal has not yet been signed by Mayor London Breed.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

After discovering that 24 adolescent girls were being confined to buildings with fire risks, holes in the walls, mold and water damage, Nebraska authorities have moved them to another facility. The girls were living in the Geneva Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center, a rural central Nebraska state-run facility for female juvenile offenders. The inhabitants, ranging from ages 14-18, were sent to the facility as a last resort by the court. Many of them have significant behavioral and mental health problems.

Four state legislators visited the campus unannounced and outlined decrepit circumstances in several of the four campus houses. “It was far worse than I could have imagined,” said Omaha’s Sen. Sara Howard, chair of the Legislature Health and Human Services Committee. Alarming conditions were discovered at the facility, like something from a horror story. When lawmakers toured the campus they discovered girls confined to empty rooms with nothing to occupy them, rooms without working lights, doors without handles, and one girl was even sleeping on a bed frame without a mattress. At least one girl has found sharp metal inside the holes in the wall and cut herself. Some of the girls even claimed to have been locked in their rooms for up to five days at a time. Several of the rooms had water damage, causing mold and mildew, which can cause serious health risks.

In one building, the mechanism that opens doors when a fire occurs was damaged, meaning if a fire were to happen, the girls would be trapped in their rooms and the doors would have to be individually opened by staff members. Howard said that some of the teenagers used a broom and an electrical cord as weapons and proceeded to barricade themselves into a room with a phone. They called the child abuse hotline, local law enforcement, and their parents before staff were able to defuse the situation. “This is an awful scenario for a place, that five or six years agowas running like a top,” Sen. Howard said. “It’s like we just decided to stop making an investment in these kids.”

There were many shortages of staff in the facility, leaving employees to work very long hours. With such a lack of staff availability, there were very limited programming options and activities for the girls in the facility. In a facility meant to be focused on rehabilitation, programming is a necessity, as is a comfortable and safe environment. “I was frankly dumbfounded by the conditions,” said the inspector general of child welfare, Julie Rogers. “It is one thing to hear allegations of a deteriorated facility. But it’s another thing to see those conditions.”

Danette Smith, the CEO of DHHS, promises that they, in combination with the Administrative Services Department, are committed to restoring the facility and creating rehabilitation programming that works and is reliable. “Our goal is a smooth transition to help the girls acclimate to their routine, which includes school, mental health support, structured activities and recreation. We hope to enhance programming and treatment, and provide an environment that is safe, supportive, and gives youth the opportunity to thrive as they transition from the YRTCs into a successful adulthood.”

The girls have been moved into the YRTC facility for boys in Kearny, and will be secluded from them and will have separate programming times so that they do not interact with the young men.

This relocation ensures that the girls will receive the rehabilitation, care, and programming that they require, while in a safe and positive environment. The relocation will enable the Department of Administrative Services to evaluate the necessary repairs and upgrades to the buildings in the facility and refurbish them. Smith stressed that her biggest concern is ensuring that the facility will be a clean, healthy and safe environment for the girls.

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