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.