Massivedynamic.co
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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Justice Reform
The negative impact that individuals experience after imprisonment is well documented, but the challenges facing families when a loved one is incarcerated are much less well known. A new study designated “Every Second”, produced in collaboration with a Cornell University research team and FWD.us, surveyed the prevalence of family imprisonment by a nationwide representative sample of 4,041 adults ages 18 and older. The results are staggering.

Approximately 113 million people have a family member who has spent time in prison or jail. Today, there is an estimated 6.5 million people who have an immediate family member presently incarcerated in prison or jail. Research has demonstrated that even for a short period of imprisonment, additional penalties such as fines and fees, constraints on employment and housing, and the loss of fundamental human rights can be devastating for people long after they have served their sentences. This penalizes not only the one incarcerated, but every family member that relies on them for financial support and security.

It is often difficult and expensive to maintain contact with a family member in prison or jail. The results from the survey demonstrate that only 1 person in 4 could visit their immediate family member during their time in prison or jail. Research has shown that sustaining contact with supportive family members during imprisonment increases the probability of successful reintegration into their communities after release, and less likelihood to be imprisoned again.

The results of this revolutionary new research are a strong reminder of the work required to mitigate the problems caused by mass incarceration and the effects it has on American families. Fortunately, a bipartisan consensus is emerging that our current processes do not make us more secure and that the financial and human costs of mass incarceration far overshadow any public safety benefits. States across the country are implementing evidence-based reforms to reduce imprisonment and improve the possibility of successful reintegration. Many organizations, such as TRACKtech are helping people prosper in their communities after they’ve been released from incarceration and facilitating family reunification.
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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.

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Recidivism

The dilemma of recurrence is a complex but urgent one. Not only have many people who leave prison lost valuable years of their life, most have little to no support to fulfill their basic needs upon reentry. Those who want to make a better life, often lack the tools to do so. A new community and law enforcement project in Shelby, North Carolina, seeks to help their citizens regain a fulfilling and successful life outside bars.

In the next five years, an average of 76% of Cleveland County individuals who commit a crime and are sent to prison will reoffend. In one year, half of them usually reoffend, according to Katie Munger, the head of the RESET program. RESET Coordinator, Christy Dunbar, will assist 10 to 15 people chosen by the parole officials and other agencies through an application process. Her goal is to guide and assist with finding anything they need from drug rehab to work clothes. RESET hopes to establish a mentorship after a year between the first group who has successfully completed the program with those who have just been released.

RESET has already begun the process of evaluating previous inmates in order to see who is a good fit for the program. More than two dozen community agency representatives have offered their assistance in the program. Each community outlet can help with an issue that a person is struggling with after their release, such as substance abuse, job training, or social skills. Together, these community outlets could collectively help a person with all the barriers they are facing in re-entering their community.

While RESET aims to support individuals during the reentry process, recidivism is a huge problem that cannot be tackled alone. TRACKTech could be utilized to automate the distribution of more rehabilitation resources and our intuitive “pattern of life” data can be used to provide more accurate and streamlined information to assist with evaluating a program member’s progress on successful reentry into their community.

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Recidivism

Japan has long been known for its prevalent respect for its elderly. In fact, Japan has the largest population over 65 years old, at an astonishing 27%. Even more surprising is the high recidivism rates among elderly citizens in Japan. According to Japan’s white paper on crime, the percentage of elderly people that returned to prison remained unchanged at 48.7% from last year. The number of women currently imprisoned at age 70 or older is roughly 12 times greater than it was 20 years ago. Of those who were indicted for crimes last year, 21.5% were 65 years of age or older during their first offense. The striking thing about these senior citizens who spend time in prison is their high recurrence rate compared to younger prisoners. Roughly 42% of the elderly males were sent to jail six times or more, while 32% were jailed 2-5 times. People serving prison sentences often face difficulty finding work after returning to their communities, and seniors are no different.

The Japanese government aims to reduce the number of people returning to jail within two years of their release to 16% or lower by 2021. This is a bold ambition and it cannot be achieved without serious efforts to reduce the problem of recidivism amongst the elderly Japanese.

Many seniors lose contact with their family and social circles after being incarcerated, so community support and rehabilitative therapy is imperative to help them reintegrate into their communities. TRACKTech™ provides a convenient and streamlined way to monitor a program member’s activity and behavior and can provide them with timely and situation-specific therapeutic material, assist with finding employment if they are below the required retirement age of 65, and maintain a community support system which is necessary to ensure rehabilitative success. Recidivism is an international dilemma, but strides can be made to lessen the hardships and isolation an elderly person faces when they are released back into their community.

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Jail Overcrowding

According to the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), the jail population in Coffee County has seen a 25 percent decline in recent weeks. Currently, there are about 320 prisoners in the county jail, roughly 100 fewer than a few months ago. The Sheriff’s Department of Coffee County works collectively with other county organizations and departments on the issue of reducing prison populations, while also ensuring that the community is free from risks. Coffee County has made such an improvement on their prison population primarily by utilizing modern technology.

In 2017, cases began being handled through a video conferencing system between the judges and inmates. The judge would sit on their bench in court while the inmates appear on a video monitor from the jail, completely negating fuel costs and saving taxpayers money. This practice is also safer and more secure. Before video conferences took place, arraignments could take all day and required the inmate to be placed in a holding cell in the justice center. If this trend continues, the change would lead to some $1.5 million in annual savings for taxpayers in the county.

Department officials are also examining various alternative prison practices like the use of a house arrest system with an ankle monitor. Though house arrest and electronically monitored parole has been very successful, using an ankle monitor carries a stigma and only provides the GPS location on a map. The TRACKPhone™ is a modern replacement for the ankle monitor and has a vast assortment of utilities, such as rehabilitative support, behavioral assessments and remote video meetings with parole officers. Ankle monitors can be excessively expensive, costing up to $40 a day. By taking advantage of TRACKTech technology, Coffee County could reduce their prison population even more while saving more money for the taxpayers.

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Justice Reform

In Cook County, IL, there are more accused criminals monitored by electronic ankle bracelets than the rest of the Illinois Corrections Department statewide, 300 plus of which are missing from the monitoring program, according to documents ABC7Chicago obtained from the Cook County Sheriff.  Almost 50% of those who are currently on ankle bracelet monitoring are accused of either violating gun laws or committing violent crimes.

One of these offenders is Jovany Galicia, a convicted felon with an extensive criminal history. He was awaiting trial on gun and assault charges. The 26-year-old was listed as an armed and habitual criminal on the county records, yet he was still placed on an ankle bracelet.  Electronic monitoring through the form of an ankle bracelet for violent criminals awaiting trial or on parole poses a high risk for public safety. Not to mention, how many of the 300 missing monitored offenders are violent? 

Ankle monitors can be a reliable way to track and maintain those accused with non-violent crimes awaiting trial, however, offenders with violent crimes or gun violations require more attention and monitoring than those with less serious crimes. While an ankle monitor provides a location on a map, it lacks the capability to assist offenders with reintegrating into their communities. To make a real change in the effectiveness of electronic monitoring on high risk and violent offenders, new technologies must be utilized. TRACKTech provides not only GPS location monitoring but also real-time information on offenders, risk factor scoring, compliance monitoring, and rehabilitative support.

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