Justice Reform

Many do not consider the struggles a person faces when they are released from incarceration. They need a stable income to provide for their families, pursue their goals, and participate in their community. There are many challenges during the transition from incarceration to community; the search for a job is an important step forward. A nationally represented data set was released estimating the unemployment rate of the 5 million formerly incarcerated people living in the United States. The data demonstrated that this demographic is unemployed at a rate over 27% higher than any historical period in the United States, including the Great Depression. For those who do manage to find employment, it is usually a very unreliable and low-paying position.

Research shows that those histories in the criminal justice system want to work and that hiring them can be beneficial for both employers and the public. An analysis of IRS data by the Brookings Institution demonstrated the majority of those released who had obtained an income were well below the poverty line. Research from 1.3 million military enlistments show that those with a criminal record are promoted faster and to higher ranks than other enlistees, and they had the same rate of attrition as their peers without records. Formerly incarcerated citizens want to work, but with current laws and policies it is increasingly difficult for them to even be given the chance.

“Ban the Box” is an international campaign for ex-offenders and civil rights groups to remove the checkbox which asks whether candidates have a criminal record on job applications. With his signing of the ban the box legislation, Governor Jared Polis made Colorado the nation’s 12th state to join the movement. The bill will be effective September 2019 for any company that has 11 or more employees. Businesses with less employees will have until September of 2021 to enforce the bill, according to Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver).

The law will allow potential employees to be evaluated on their merit rather than immediately being taken out of the candidate pool. However, employers are allowed to ask if they have been arrested and run a background during the interview process. The new law will change the recruiting culture of Colorado, said Rob McGowen, owner of Denver-based Dai Kon sandwiches. He believes it will be harder for companies to immediately dismiss a potential employee. McGowen believes that it will put more importance on the person in the interview, rather than their history. “Really, it’s about the interview and how you present yourself.”


Success Stories

Four large counties make up one Colorado Judicial District that has utilized TRACKTech’s comprehensive platform to enhance public safety and improve lives through TRACKphoneLite (TpL). This intuitive app is installed on the mobile device of an offender which then provides a multitude of useful features, such as location tracking, video conferencing, behavioral health assessments, rehabilitative support and compliance monitoring.

The District has been using TRACKphoneLite primarily for relieving case load, streamlining check-ins and saving their Supervising Officers valuable time. The check-In feature has been recognized as being essential in saving time for both the program member and the supervising officer. “I believe it is saving time on curfew checks. I am able to send a location request and move on to the next one. I have one client that is on TRACKtech in lieu of GPS – she checks in frequently.”

Curfew visits are very common, and when an officer has many checks in a night, it can become exhausting, time consuming and even dangerous. “For me I’d love to use it for all my [program members] as it would save me a lot of time and keep me off the streets at night doing curfew checks. I want it for my entire caseload.”

It can be extremely problematic to keep track of an offender who travels regularly and TRACKphoneLite has made that so much easier. “I love the check in feature for people that I have had difficulty locating during home visits/employment checks and for those that move frequently or travel for work frequently. I feel like it is a great benefit to supervision.”

Video Conferencing has shown to be one of the most beneficial features of TRACKphoneLite for the Judicial District, as it completely negates the need for the offender to visit the office for an appointment, especially if there are extenuating circumstances that make attending very difficult.  “I had one client who could not report for an appointment.  Rather than reschedule, we had him complete a full appointment via video conference.  The appointment was very productive.  The client was engaged, and it saved time with rescheduling another appointment.  It was also helpful for the client who struggled with transportation.”

TRACKphoneLite is especially effective for juveniles, as using a cell phone has become almost essential to their lives. Going through the criminal justice system is not an easy process, and this application helps to ease them through it in a more familiar and comfortable way. “Yes, there is a benefit to the client. I think not only from the juvenile’s perspective but also from the parents and other people residing in the house because it’s less intrusive than late night home visits. I believe the juveniles like interacting on phones. Even with PO’s it’s more “natural” for them because this is just how they interact with people now. So, their demeanor is different on the video conferencing than in the office because I feel they are more relaxed. I think the check-ins are easy for them as well. It doesn’t interfere with whatever they are doing at that time as it’s a simple click.”

Supervising officers for these juveniles are seeing the benefit of this application as well. It has saved them countless hours and made them feel much more comfortable checking in on their members. “If it was my entire caseload it would do wonders. I could simply click my entire caseload in seconds where curfews can take hours and sometimes multiple evenings. The time period that it takes aside, the safety portion can’t be ignored. Bad things usually happen at night, having to do less evening trips because of this would mean less opportunities for ‘bad things’. Also, the video conferencing would be great for everyone. They don’t have a ride that day (which is a major thing with kids, since they can’t drive) no problem, just do it over video. They forget it (because kids don’t prioritize well) no problem – video conference. Having difficulty visiting them at home and can’t keep trying every week, no problem, just video conference.”

TRACKtech’s goal is to reduce recidivism rates and improve the lives of those in the criminal justice system, helping create functioning members of society. The TRACKphoneLite application is just one of many ways to increase success by accommodating to individual needs and lessening the workload of officers. Observe. Predict. Influence.