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Recidivism

The Crime Report published an article about how many individuals still face consequences and barriers after being released from prison. People are naming these consequences and barriers ‘internal exile’, as they prevent many from successfully reintegrating back into society. Although some consequences come from stigmatized views of individuals who are released, most barriers are created by federal and state laws and regulations. Due to this, Congress is now exploring the option of a new form of relief, a Certificate of Rehabilitation. This certificate will “address the absence of any general federal restoration of rights regime, leaving aside the once-robust, now rare and erratic, presidential pardon power.” The proposed certificate falls under the RE-ENTER Act of 2019 stating that a judge can issue a certificate to alleviate the burdens of a criminal record, essentially giving individuals a second chance.

Although it may seem like this certificate was just introduced, it has been around for more than a half century and was created in New York. It is currently authorized in 12 states and is becoming a major national reform law. It is important that individuals do not continue to face the many barriers they do after serving their time and trying to get their lives back on track. The certificate would alleviate the burden of not being able to fully integrate back into society and help reduce pressure on tens of thousands of Americans. “In grand, formal language, the bill explains that it is the “sense of Congress” that “a Federal certificate of rehabilitation shall act as an expungement of any prior conviction of an eligible offender for the purposes of any employment, licensing, education, housing, or other determination;” and, that a certificate should constitute “evidence of due care” in employment, housing and a variety of other contexts.” However, a certificate does not erase or pardon past convictions, it still allows access to a record if known about.

There is hope that this certificate, expanded and added upon by Congress, will make a significant difference in the lives of many. It provides a rehabilitative approach to criminal justice and is removing more barriers for people integrating back into society.

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Community Supervision

The term parole has had a long-standing pessimistic view from people as many believe that individuals serving parole will reoffend. They also have the stigma that every criminal is violent and that people on parole should not be released as they are dangerous or criminal. According to an article by the Justice Center, The Council of State Governments, “with data to back them up, some states have started to challenge that way of thinking and turn pessimistic parole into “presumptive parole.”

For example, Vermont recently passed legislation that requires a growing approach in state corrections systems related to parole. They are using a form of reverse psychology where they assume parole-eligible people should be released unless there is a good reason not to. The reasoning behind this leads others that are incarcerated to participate in and finish required programming so that they are eligible for parole. Vermont’s legislation requires people to meet their minimum sentence requirement and key criteria related to good behavior while incarcerated, and then reviews parole candidates within 30 days of the individuals parole eligibility date.

For now, there are two stages of presumptive parole, first in 2021 where parole for people convicted of nonviolent offenses is established and then in 2023 parole will expand to include more types of eligible offenses. Vermont is just one of a few states that has been changing parole policies and redefining it to improve public safety, reduce corrections spending and reinvest in strategies to reduce recidivism. It is a step in the right direction regarding justice reform and helping individuals be less stigmatized when released. Most individuals on parole are working very hard to change their lives around and take advantage of their second chance. 

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Community Supervision

The Chicago Tribune posted an article highlighting how a lack of ankle monitors is keeping defendants behind bars. Because of the shortage, many people who were up for parole are stuck in Cook County Jail. Their original release date has been pushed back and they are unable to do anything about it because the corrections facilities have run out of equipment. Amid COVID-19, there was a massive push to reduce jail populations in the hopes of reducing the risk of it spreading in facilities. Because of this, many inmates were released and placed on parole. This helped reduce the population behind bars drastically to help mitigate COVID-19. However, this has put more stress on the already limited supply of monitors available. With having to keep people in jail, this could cause a slow in the progress jails and prisons have made when it comes to stopping the spread.

Supplies are being replenished each week but very slowly with only 12 new monitors coming in to the facility to be used. Cook County Jail said they are expecting a shipment of 50 alternative devices and 26 defendants will have their electronic monitoring orders returned to be viewed by a judge. COVID-19 has created a lot of chaos when it comes to supply shortages in jails and prisons. It was not foreseen that this many people would be released on electronic monitoring devices to reduce prison populations. As more monitors come in, people who are stuck in jail are being released to serve their jail term or parole at home.

TRACKtech, LLC is a company working hard to provide companies and facilities with electronic monitoring devices. Our platform is user friendly and monitors all program members efficiently and in a timely manner. TRACKphone is a device that allows officers to check in with their program members regularly through biometric identification and allows them to monitor the program members location with customized geofencing applications. TRACKphone also provides extensive resources for program members to use to rehabilitate better into society. Our extensive platforms aim to reduce recidivism and can help get people stuck in jail out. The platform helps officers manage their caseloads more efficiently while still monitoring each one closely. During this crisis, TRACKtech, LLC has continued to improve their products and hopes to be able to do their part during these uncertain times by providing an electronic monitoring system during the shortage of them.

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Community Supervision

Electronic supervision of individuals on probation and parole has been a very widespread and acceptable form of monitoring. With COVID-19 running rampant, facilities are scrambling for ways to reduce jail and prison overcrowding to keep inmates and staff members safe. There are now twice as many people under community supervision than are incarcerated in the U.S.

An article was published highlighting the difficulties of resources allocated for probation and parole. Many individuals are given probation sentences or being released on parole to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These two forms of release serve as alternatives to prison sentences with over 4.5 million people in the U.S. being supervised in the community, compared to 2.2 million being incarcerated in 2016. The numbers have only continued to rise since then. However, with this many people being supervised and probation and parole officers being limited, the extent of time spent with individuals is slim and can lead to re-incarceration. Recidivism is high for individuals who do not feel supported or given access to imperative resources when rehabilitating and entering society again. Probation and parole officers do their best to meet the needs of each individual they are in charge of but are stripped for time and resources when it comes to treating them with the same amount of support and focus.

TRACKtech understands the difficulty officers face when it comes to having too many caseloads to handle. That is why we have designed a fully integrated community supervision platform that allows officers to have more time within their large caseloads but also provides them with more resources and support to give individuals. Our TRACKphone allows supervision officers the ability to remotely check in with program members through biometric identification and videoconferencing. Geofencing capabilities are built into the phone and alerts are sent to officers when individuals are non-compliant or in violation of geoparameters. TRACKphone also has built in resources and programs for members to take advantage of and feel supported. This ultimately reduces recidivism and provides officers with more time to check in with program members to make sure they are able to rehabilitate into society.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Mental health and well-being are important for all individuals to remember. Taking care of yourself is the first step when it comes to taking care of others. You will only get so far in helping others without having the right mindset for yourself.

In the criminal justice field especially, remembering to look after yourself is a top priority so that you are able to help your clients. Being a community corrections officer proves difficult due to the number of caseloads and individuals they are responsible for, as well as the high-pressure workspace they work in. You are responsible for keeping individuals in compliance and the public safe, which can bring about a lot of stress and fatigue. Your well-being can be put on hold while working a difficult job, but it should never be suppressed.

Some recommendations for taking care of yourself are as follows from SAMHSA:

  • Be physically active
  • Sleep and eat well
  • Avoid increasing alcohol and drug use
  • Stay in contact with loved ones
  • Turn to colleagues for support
  • Meditate
  • Try breathing exercises
  • Seek sources of humor
  • Journaling or drawing
  • Participate in spiritual practices

There are many more tips that SAMHSA recommends that can be found in the article above.

Work burnout is more prevalent than ever, as technology brings many benefits but also drawbacks as people always have to be available, even at home. Distinction between home and work life balance are becoming blurred, especially during COVID-19. Read more about work burnout and understanding how to balance this issue between work and life. It is important to support and take time for yourself. Well-being of individuals in the criminal justice field is especially key because if they do not take care of themselves, then they cannot take care of and help others.

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Justice Reform

LEVICK is a communication firm that focuses on rebuilding other companies reputations and helping fix the impossible. They recently wrote a blog featuring TRACKtech about what companies can do to embrace #BlackLivesMatter and the ongoing civil rights movements. They focused on Rayshard Brooks story and how he was one of many who fell through the cracks of the prison reentry and probation system. His story, however, has gone viral unlike many others who had devastating and unfortunate outcomes. One detail that is not discussed about Rayshard Brooks’ death is that he should never have been in contact with police the night he died. He was serving probation time, after being incarcerated, and working hard to turn his life around, as he had a job and family to support. He was trying to be better for them and to do the right thing but felt restricted by the criminal justice system.

There is a large lack of guidance and support for individuals who are on parole and probation. Many leave prison with nowhere to go, no income, no job lined up, and no knowledge of how to support themselves. Rayshard Brooks describes these hardships and needing more guidance and mentorship in a video that was recorded just four months before his death. He said he wanted “things to be better, you know, within probation and parole and also monitoring”. The system needs to focus more on looking at people as individuals and structuring support towards their needs, by taking a rehabilitative approach instead of punitive. Those serving parole have paid their debt to society through incarceration and if they are seeking to have a second chance, they should have that opportunity. It should be easier for them to turn their lives around if willing than is possible in the justice system right now.

Rayshard Brooks talked about needing a mentor and having his probation officer there for him more. With officers being overloaded with case loads, it is hard for them to provide attention to all individuals assigned to them. TRACKtech understands this difficulty for parole and probation officers but also for the individual needing more structure and resources to reintegrate back into society. Our products are designed to provide these resources for the individual, such as Rayshard Brooks, through different rehabilitative services and programs. We believe in rehabilitative practices that focus on the individual and speak to their needs. Also, our products give officers more time with each person by being able to remotely check-in with individuals through biometric identification, video conferencing and being able to monitor their compliance through an easy to use dashboard. It is vital that the justice reform system be transformed to help individuals like Rayshard Brooks who struggle reintegrating into society and finding their place again. It should be accessible and rewarding for the hard work they put into their second chance at life.

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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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Community Supervision

While awaiting trial in Arizona, defendants are being forced to choose between paying hundreds of dollars to live at home on a GPS monitoring system or wait for their trial in a jail cell. The Arizona Central published an article about defendants fighting back against the lack of affordable monitoring technology. One defendant, Robert Hiskett, could not afford the private company that supplied the GPS monitoring and with his bail set by the judge at $100,000, he was sent to jail until his trial. This has become an increasing problem for many people convicted in the state of Arizona. So much so that the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona is challenging the state law that allows this practice and arguing that it is unconstitutional to convicted people. Because of this challenge to the law, Hiskett did not have to pay for the monitoring services but others are still unable to afford the monitoring services or bail, causing overcrowding in jails while they await trial. 

Hiskett and others have been told that the GPS monitoring services provided by the court cost around $400 a month and if trials are scheduled months out, the money adds up quickly. People have asked that their electronic monitoring services be covered by public funds but because the cost of the services is expensive, they have been denied. With being unable to afford bail and monitoring services, the defendants sit in jail because judges and communities do not feel safe having them on the streets without any supervision. 

Probation departments are in need of monitoring technology solutions that are affordable for the department and for people awaiting trial, on probation or parole. TRACKtech, LLC is an electronic monitoring platform that allows for supervising officers to monitor the location of their convicted program members with the abilities to check-in remotely with them through text-message and video conferencing. TRACKtech is dedicated to working with courts to create an affordable price to provide those awaiting trial the option, if possible, to not spend their pretrial months in jail. 

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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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Community Supervision

Community supervision, such as probation and parole, is beneficial in lowering the fiscal impact of prisons and reducing overcrowding while helping people reintegrate into society. While community supervision has been considered an effective way to tackle prison populations, new data shows that parole and probation might be having adverse effects. A concerning reality of the probation and parole violations effects on prison populations has been discovered in a new analysis provided by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center. These numbers are taken from corrections and community supervision leaders in 50 states and develops the first thorough look into the effects of these violations.

In 2017 there were a total of 590,234 admissions, 45% of which were due to technical violations or new offenses of probation or parole. A technical violation is misconduct by a person under supervision that by itself is not considered a criminal offense and usually does not result in an arrest. These include failing to report for an appointment with a supervision officer, failing a drug test, missing a curfew, contacting a victim, or lack of employment. Technical violations are responsible for nearly 1/4 of all state prison admissions, which can result in very hefty fees. Nearly 280,000 people are incarcerated on any given day in result of a supervision violation, costing states over $9.3 billion annually.

TRACKTech™ is working to reduce these violations by making it easier for supervisors and offenders to better communicate and avoid technical violations. Our products help with the rehabilitative process and making sure program members do not violate their parameters, continually check-in remotely with officers through biometric verification and have the ability to video conference with supervisors. They are constantly sent calendar reminders for appointments, court dates, meetings with supervisors and various other needs to alleviate the excuse of forgetting or not knowing the offender had them scheduled. Rehabilitative support is provided in an array of assessments and can suggest targeted therapeutic materials to the program member, while also aiding with obtaining employment and attending community groups. With TRACktech, supervisors can keep their program members under better supervision and reduce the risk of them receiving technical violations for controllable reasons.

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