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Public Safety

Community supervision has become the new norm for officers to monitor individuals out on bail, during pretrial, or serving probation and parole time. However, it is difficult to monitor those who have committed low level offenses or are registered sex offenders, as they are not closely monitored through tracking devices. In an article posted by the Crime Report, it is estimated that 25,000 convicted sex offenders and predators across the U.S. are unaccounted for. This is due to them registering their addresses as homeless shelters or from them moving and never being located concluding that their whereabouts are unknown to law enforcement.

There is a concerning issue at hand for how to monitor these individuals on the limited budgets and time of officers. This shortcoming predates the pandemic and has only increased the problem as space in jails and prisons is limited, so many have been released. Although steps have been taken to try to protect victims and those harmed by these individuals, it is not always conclusive. State registries often have many errors, including wrong addresses, names of individuals that have passed away, and some that have not verified their whereabouts in years. A new way of addressing the issue and protecting the community is vital.

TRACKtech is committed to problem solving, especially when it comes to monitoring individuals and keeping the public safe. TRACKphone allows officers to monitor the location of their program member without having to visually see them, as they can promptly request check-ins that require biometric identification. Officers can also set up geofencing and parameters that alert them when offenders are violating designated locations. Behavioral and mental health resources and programs are available on the phone for program members to access to help rehabilitate them, instead of punishing them. With the pandemic in full swing and more individuals being released, TRACKtech can provide solutions to urgent matters.

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Public Safety

It is no secret that the prison system is harsh and rigorous for both staff and inmates. Many inmates struggle with having access to care and resources when imprisoned. The Crime Report published an article about these difficulties and how dozens of prisons, including ones in Louisiana, Connecticut, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, are facing legal charges and being targeted in COVID-19 civil rights lawsuits.

Inmates tell their stories of how they were denied access to medical services and resources when sick or at-risk of contracting COVID-19. Prison staff, as well as inmates, struggle with COVID-19 procedures. There are shortages and difficulties when it comes to having enough staff to run facilities due to COVID-19 protocols. Inmates and staff feel wronged and are fighting back against the violations they have suffered while incarcerated and working for the prison systems. The lawsuits highlight that correctional authorities’ response to COVID-19 has been defined by inaction and resulted in consequences in the health and well-being of staff and inmates. Many individuals are seeking the release of inmates who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 to help reduce the death toll that has been spreading through facilities.

As of July 21st, approximately 70,700 individuals behind bars have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 700 have passed away, with these numbers continuing to rise. The well-being and safety of officers and inmates should be a priority. In order to help mitigate the spread and keep people safe, de-incarceration and community supervision has been the go to. Innovative solutions need to be considered in order to stop the spread and keep lawsuits at bay.

TRACKtech supports the health and well-being of officers and their clients in these hard times. With our solutions, probation and parole officers can remotely check-in with individuals through biometric identification and video conferencing. This allows both to stay at home and keep social distancing protocols while still being able to monitor the individual through geofencing built in to our TRACKphone. TRACkphone also provides resources and programs for rehabilitation and to help individuals feel at ease after being incarcerated. It is an adjustment into the society, especially during COVID-19. Community supervision is becoming the new norm as it reduces populations at risk of contracting COVID-19 in facilities and the costs of incarceration. Mobile supervision is one solution to the problems that keep arising in the criminal justice industry and the safety measures needed to take to mitigate COVID-19.

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Public Safety
An article posted by Corridor News addresses issues surrounding homelessness and recidivism rates in the Austin community. “The Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) has facilitated dramatic reductions in repeat offenses among individuals experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations”. The Court is aiming to help reduce these issues by showing compassion and care to individuals, by using a rehabilitative approach instead of incarceration or admitting them to hospitals. This leads to the improvement of the individuals lives and reduces strain on public systems, including jails and health care programs.

The DACC has already seen dramatic reductions according to a recent study. “The analysis of citations issued to a group of 59 individuals experiencing homelessness both before and after their engagement with DACC’s Intensive Case Management program reveals that the number of citations plummeted by 99% from 1,556 before participating in DACC services to just 7 afterward”. The mission of the DACC is to continue to serve individuals experiencing homelessness with person to person contact and a comprehensive approach. They want to create safe and respectful environments for people and to provide them with the help they need.

The DACC program is also working with the Intensive Case Management (ICM) to stop the issuing of fines that lead to arrests or threats of jail time. Instead ICM provides access to support systems and programs for substance abuse, mental health care, peer support, basic needs, and permanent and transitional housing. The case management team is currently working with 122 people to combat homelessness and provide a second chance for them. As the program grows, they are expecting to help more people get back on their feet by providing necessary and basic services to combat homelessness and recidivism.
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Public Safety

The Marcus Harris Foundation posted about children of incarcerated parents needing support now more than ever. COVID-19 continues to turn the lives of families, especially those incarcerated, upside down. Children with parents who are incarcerated already suffer from lack of resources and recognition but even more so now. The children are not the ones at fault for being incarcerated but continue to feel the full effect and problems that come with incarceration of a parent. These children miss out on celebrating major milestones with their parents and now with COVID-19 affecting visiting hours and interactions with family members in prison, children are suffering even more. They are unable to visit or talk to their parents and continually worry about whether they are okay and safe.

Children may not understand the direct issues and problems that come with COVID-19, but they certainly can sense the stress it is putting on their loved ones. Facilities are being shut down, there is a concern for lack of equipment and testing in jails and prisons, early releases of individuals and movements of criminal justice reform that are causing riots and distress. An organization, Our Children’s Place (OCP), is encouraging communities to consider what they can do to support children whose parents are incarcerated. Professionals are able to check in with children and see how they are doing, while providing materials and resources such as books and tool kits online for youth. The resources are made for the children but also provide information for their caregivers and family members about access to food, books and other types of distribution efforts for children with incarcerated parents.

Children are the next generation of the world and need to be supported and cared for by all to show them the endless possibilities that still exist, even if they have parents who struggle. Learn more about how you can help in a time of need by visiting Our Children’s Place website linked above.

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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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Public Safety

In Charlotte, North Carolina an article was published by the Patch Staff in relation to a business robbery. The business reported two men entering the store mid-afternoon to steal money. The store owner confronted the two, trying to grab one suspect but they quickly made their escape. No one was injured in the process. After the incident, investigators were able to quickly identify one of the suspects, as he was wearing a court-ordered electronic monitoring device at the time of the robbery. The suspect had been arrested the previous month for being in possession of a stolen firearm and stolen vehicle, and then proceeding to discharge the firearm. Due to the electronic monitor on his ankle, police tracked him down and were able to convict him of the crime after a full confession. Without the tracking and pinpoints of the suspect’s whereabouts, the police would most likely not have been able to track him down.

TRACKtech, LLC is a platform designed for supervisors to be able to monitor and observe the locations of their program members. It pinpoints their location near-real time and allows for supervisors to check in with their program members remotely through the TRACKphone. More importantly than monitoring offender locations, the platform provides rehabilitative and life resources to those convicted in the hopes of reducing recidivism. Without reliable electronic monitoring devices and easy to use platforms, cases like these could go unsolved, and they also provide extra security in public safety concerns surrounding convicted felons on parole or probation. With rehabilitative resources available, ideally cases like this would not even occur. 

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Public Safety

Times Union recently published an article regarding how the Albany Sheriff’s office is going to help the homeless population. As jail populations have decreased, the Albany County Sheriff’s department is working on creating a new solution to help end homelessness. The program is set to be called the Sheriff’s Homeless Improvement Project and will use an empty tier in one of the jail’s buildings as a transitional housing and one-stop resource for those struggling to find a job, suffering from addiction or mental health issues and living on the streets. The programs for these struggling populations are centered around programs already being implemented in the jail that are offered to inmates. Sheriff Craig Apple states “whatever we can do to release somebody who can be healthy and productive back in the community, [is] our goal here.” They also are focusing on reducing recidivism rates and have already seen a drop as people are not coming back to jail. 

The jail population has been decreasing. In July, there were only 431 inmates , compared to the 1,000 it is able to house. This Albany jail is not the only one seeing a decrease in inmate populations, as the state’s total population in county jails fell over 13% from July 2018 to July 2019. Due to these new programs and the sheriff’s office working on rehabilitating inmates instead of employing a punitive approach, the jail is changing its name, to encompass its new mission; the Albany County Corrections and Rehabilitative Services Center. The jail is partnering with other centers including St. Peter’s Hospital, the Homeless and Traveler’s Aid Society, CDTA and other groups to create the program and build services. 

The homeless program is still in the works and Apple said they are trying to figure out their source of funding for food and housing. The facility will have rules similar to those of shelters and the staff will be civilians from nonprofits and the sheriff’s department. This saves the cost and limited resources of staffing correctional officers in the facility and gearing the workers towards what the population being housed in the facility will need. Apple is hopeful that this new facility and programs will help the homeless population get back on their feet and become functioning members of society again. 

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Public Safety

Biometric identification is becoming an increasingly favored technology method for companies to use when verifying or searching for the identity of a person. In a recent article published by Government Technology about biometric identification, massive gains in accuracy and lower costs allow facial recognition to serve as a reliable application for governments and other companies to use. The facial recognition market is growing rapidly, estimated to reach $7.76 billion in value globally. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Hillsboro, Oregon, was one of the first law enforcement agencies in the country to use Amazon’s facial recognition software program at a cost of $7 per month. Using this program regularly has led to dozens of arrests for theft, violence and other crimes. 

However, as the technology becomes increasingly accurate, privacy advocates are worried about diminishing what little privacy people have left. Without proper checks and balances in place, the latest technology has the potential for abuse, intrusiveness and invasion of privacy. With this also comes the risk being raised that facial recognition technologies struggle with discerning people of color accurately, resulting in an inherent bias. Many cities are working towards keeping the use of facial recognition technology under control and being aware of privacy issues.

TRACKtech, LLC has incorporated biometric identification into our products to increase safety and verification of program members. The TRACKphone provides the supervisor with a choice of three options for biometric verification including a fingerprint, iris scan or voice recognition. Biometric verification is used to ensure that the program member is the one in possession of the phone and allows for supervisors to monitor where they are, as well as check in with them through secured verification. TRACKtech ensures that all data is secure and does not misuse biometric verification technology, in the hopes of still providing the program member with reassurance that they have privacy, even while under supervision. 

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Community Supervision, Public Safety

For years, the United States has struggled to provide effective support to the more than 650,000 people who return to society from prison every year. As imprisoned individuals prepare to re-enter their communities, there are many factors that determine whether they are going to build a successful life after incarceration or whether they end up back behind bars. The potential challenges for re-entry include compliance with probation requirements, gaining employment, housing security and access to behavioral health services. If we are to succeed in reducing the number of re-offenders in America, we must find ways of changing the status quo in current policies and practices and embrace emerging technologies.

Technology has the capacity to greatly affect this intractable problem of recidivism in countless ways. The benefit of technology is that it can be customized to fit countless situations. Devices that continuously monitor alcohol intake of a person have completely changed how supervisors tackle alcohol abuse with offenders. Access to internet-based applications can provide automatic updates on job opportunities, deliver therapeutic materials and assist with training skills for the offender. Case Management Systems make it easier for case workers to monitor compliance and provide rehabilitative support though a streamlined secure website. Electronic monitoring devices can be customized to fit the needs of the offender using it, such as approving certain apps, controlling internet access, and monitoring their behavior. Video conferencing and messaging can allow for constant contact with a probation officer, including after normal business hours or across distances, which would minimize conflicts between work, family, and probation obligations.

TRACKtech™ provides two options for electronic monitoring. The TRACKPhone™, which is a specialized smartphone issued to Program Members, is intended to enforce compliance for those in need of more severe supervision. It provides biometric verification, GPS tracking, and more strict compliance enforcement. TRACKphoneLite™ is a more moderate alternative in the form of a smartphone application. This application can be applied to the Program Member’s smartphone and allows location check-ins, communication with their supervising officer over video chat, calendar reminders, and community-based recovery resources. These emerging technologies have the potential to transform reentry compliance and drastically reduce recidivism.

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Public Safety
National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week takes place the week of April 14 – April 20, recognizing the dedicated men and women who are the first line of defense and comprise emergency response agencies. Bartlesville Police Department Dispatcher, Teri Roberts, is one of these people. She listens to the caller’s needs and types information into the computer system, which takes eight monitors to manage. She asks the caller questions about the type of call and their location, while maneuvering her mouse to one of the screens dedicated to the radio frequencies for 20 different agencies. Roberts quickly notifies the Fire Department and Ambulance of the address of the call and the details of the caller’s emergency. She takes pride in her work, and after completing the call she states, “It’s all in a day’s work, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Securely located in the Bartlesville Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the dispatch center has three different shifts, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are 15 dispatchers contracted to handle all the 911 emergency calls across the entire county. Rick Silver, Special Assistant to the Chief of Police at Bartlesville Police Department, is responsible for the dispatch center. From the 1st of January to March 31st, Silver recalled that over 4,200 emergency calls and over 18,000 non-emergency calls to 911 had been answered by dispatchers. “I’ve always told everyone my whole career that being a cop was what I wanted to do. To me that was the easy thing. I would never be a dispatcher,” Silver said. “It takes a special kind of person to be able to do that job because it is very hectic sometimes. People don’t realize the volume of calls that come in there.”

Dispatchers aren’t just the first line of defense for the people calling in, but also for the officers who are handling these calls out in the field. A dispatcher must be a multi-tasker, someone who is able to gather information and provide it to the officers and responders in the field while remaining calm and professional during stressful and intense situations.

Terri Mcarty, who has been a dispatcher for 33 years, says she wouldn’t do anything else. “It’s just what we like to do – help the community, and it makes you feel good that you are able to help somebody in their time of need. We are behind the scenes, and no one really knows who you are, but it just makes you feel good to go home at the end of the day and know that you helped somebody.”

Jon Copeland, Undersheriff of Washington County believes that dispatchers are crucial to assisting local deputies. “They are the heroes behind the scenes, the unsung heroes. They are the ones taking the initial information and letting deputies, EMS, fire, and police officers know where they need to go. They gather quite a bit of information and check up on us when they are on a call.” He is so thankful for the calm and steady voice on the radio. “It’s priceless. We can’t thank our dispatchers enough.”
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