Additional research on reducing recidivism released

February 1st, 2016

In the December 2015 issue of Federal Probation, there was an article presenting the recidivism research the Administrative Office of the U.S. Court recently completed. This study is one of the few I’ve come across with current data and further confirmation that supervised released reduces recidivism. The report is well worth the time to read it.

But as I continue working in the electronic monitoring/GPS industry, I wonder is there more that can be done to further reduce recidivism? Everyone and anyone can play the “what if” and “what about” games:

  • What if the caseloads were smaller for supervising agents?
  • What if the agents increased their interaction with the offender?
  • What if a treatment plan was required for every offender?
  • What if technology was used to further supervise the offender?
  • What about increased involvement with the family or support structure by the agency?
  • Etc.

I always present our devices and services as a component of a good supervision model. But technology isn’t right for everyone. For some it’s overbearing and may create additional obstacles for the offender. For others, it’s the right balance of additional supervision and accountability, while allowing the offender the ability to reconnect to the community. The challenge for agencies is making sure they have access to the tools, experts, studies to further reduce recidivism. Giving people the chance to be successful helps everyone in the community.

It’s a great time to be a supporter of community supervision and interaction. The days of locking people up because we can, not because we should, appear to be fading into the past.

Courtroom Testimony – Let STOP help

January 4th, 2016

Ashley Fuller, our Director of Judicial Affairs and Crime Scene Analysis, is the guest author of this post. She has impeccable credentials and many hours of experience working with court officials. I appreciate her willingness to share her expertise on courtroom testimony.

How many of us have terrible flashbacks to our school days every time we think about taking an exam? Our faces become flushed with anxiety and our brain goes on overdrive hoping we’re prepared? When we transport our younger selves to adulthood and face promotion exams or hiring board interviews, those same nerves and fears can surface. Intimidation can step in and those answers, which we just knew were perfect, fade away into the land of “the forgotten.”

Have you ever thought about the court room experience in a similar fashion? You walk into a crowded courtroom and face 12 members of a jury and a judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, the defendant (who might have been on your case load) and, potentially, your supervisor. Your swearing-in shines the spotlight on you and your promise to tell the truth (“I hope I remember!” ), and then you sit in the uncomfortable witness stand. You do not trust who’s asking the questions and, most of all, you don’t feel the need to justify the good job you know you did while monitoring the defendant.

I can definitely relate to courtroom nerves. My career has allowed me to spend many hours in court. I was a police officer for more than eight years, and I’ve spent nearly five years traveling across the Nation testifying as STOP’s expert witness for our partner agencies. I may not know the answers as to why a defendant is found guilty or not guilty, but I have developed a way to answer some of the detailed questions about GPS in a way that most judges and juries can understand. I have learned when you understand, not just STOP’s technology but how to explain it to others, your courtroom experience doesn’t have to be nightmare-ish.

We don ‘t want to keep these answers to ourselves. We want to help arm you and your colleagues with the needed tools for success the next time you’re faced with difficult courtroom questions. We have developed courtroom testimony training for agencies that can be a live webinar or in-person at your agency. All of us feel a sense of calm when we are prepared, even if we’re facing the expected.

So, chat with your account manager if the online or onsite training would be helpful for your agency. All of us have enough stressful situations in our lives-let STOP help reduce some of your stress.

Is your EM vendor ready for the future?

December 2nd, 2015

There are many components of an EM system your vendor can control, such as hardware functionality and reliability, but there are also some VERY important components completely out of your vendor’s control. And these aspects are vital to the operation of your monitoring devices: the cellular network and the GPS satellite array.

STOP’s Engineering Team spent the past year working to enhance the functionality of our primary GPS monitoring device and our enhanced RF monitoring device to make sure we were ready for the upcoming cellular network changes our equipment uses to report into our software.

You may not be aware that cellular carriers are in the process of shutting down their 2G networks, which is necessitated by the data demands of consumers. Because of the timely action taken internally, our equipment now communicates on 3G networks using a choice of GSM and CDMA cellular carriers. As we continue transitioning to the AT&T and Verizon networks, our partner agencies do not need to be concerned about the impending 2G cellular network shutdown. However, many EM equipment vendors have not made the transition and there is a real risk to agencies and their EM programs using those systems.

The GPS game has also changed. The U.S. is one of numerous other countries operating a GPS satellite array. Russia, China and European nations have developed or are developing their own GPS satellite arrays. And the U.S. is deploying the next generation of GPS satellites. Our equipment is ready to use all of these systems to enhance location acquisition and improve GPS accuracy.

BLUtag now has shock sensors, anti-jamming and jamming detection, Wi-Fi sniffing, shielding detection, and I can go on. What does your vendor’s EM system offer?

Customer-focus = new functionality, new service

November 9th, 2015

As a customer-focused Company, STOP continually places the needs of government agency partners as the highest priority. Since our founding, our goal has always been to provide the best offender tracking system available. As our system enhancements have developed, we looked to expand the services we provide to agency partners.

The expansion of our service offerings began with Monitoring Center, where STOP managed key events for agencies. This service includes communicating with the officer and/or offender to correct behavior and, if necessary, escalate back to the agency for further action and/or possible sanction.

The next service offered was installing and removing equipment for agency partners whose resources were already stretched and supervising officers needed that level of support. STOP used a contractor to provide this service for some projects, but as the number of requests for the service increased, STOP and our parent company, Securus Technologies, Inc., decided to purchase the contractor so we could directly benefit from the expertise of the managers who provided this service.

Another service added was the ability to directly invoice and receive payment from offenders who are supervised by our partner agencies. Securus Technologies has provided payment services to their customers for many years, so we tapped into this area of expertise to create a service that meets the varying needs of our government agency partners. Integration from VeriTracks to Securus Online makes payment collection and processing easy and quick for the offender. They have access to 24-hour technical support and the ability to make payments online 24 hours a day (available to those offenders with Internet access).

Our government agency partners have known they can depend on STOP to listen to their needs and develop viable solutions. This strong commitment to our customers and meeting their evolving needs will not change. And we ll continue to proactively search for system functionality and services that can help improve the community supervision programs our agency partners operate.

2015 Training Institute: New format still produces great success

October 10th, 2015

Satellite Tracking of People LLC hosted its 9th Training Institute in Denver, Colorado. The format of the Institute changed slightly this year based on attendee feedback from previous Institutes.

Eighty-eight people were invited to attend, representing 43 partner agencies. This year attendees arrived the afternoon prior to the first day of the conference. They were entertained through dinner with the start of an online game that lasted through the Institute. The first day of the conference was a full day of interactive learning and discussion sessions.

I introduced STOP"s focus for 2016: Informatics. STOP currently has three tent-pole components of Informatics and will expand on them throughout next year. The three main components are:

Timeline This is an easy to read graphical representation of an enrollee"s activities, which can be reviewed daily, weekly or monthly. Within a given time increment, the enrollees are highlighted allowing the supervising agent/officer to quickly look for patterns or areas of concern.

Associations This feature shows enrollees who are together at the same location during the same period of time. Many agencies prohibit their enrollees from being in contact with each other. If any enrollees are at the same location during any given timeframe, an icon displays on the Visit for each of the enrollees. Supervising agents/officers simply click on the icon and immediately know the identity of each enrollee at the location and their arrival/departure time.

Crime Scene Correlation STOP developed crime scene correlation more than 10 years ago and we enhance its functionality annually. This year"s addition was the ability to do a spatial query over a designated geographic region. No address is necessary to determine if an enrollee was near the scene of a crime or near and area where a suspected incident occurred.

During the Institute, attendees received 10 hours of training that is not available anytime outside of the event. The discussion-driven courses were interactive and participatory to increase attendee involvement."sTOP also gained valuable suggestions to improve our products and services by the attendees.

The 2016 Training Institute is tentatively planned to be in San Diego, California in September or October. We have a lot to live up to the expectations set by our previous Institutes, but we look forward to showcasing STOP again next year.

Paying it forward in 2015

January 2nd, 2015

Satellite Tracking of People LLC experienced many highs during 2014: launching our BLU+ (blue-plus) RF monitoring device, which offers some GPS location capability; launching a greatly-enhanced VeriTracks application with easier navigation and new functionality; and completing the integration with our new parent company, Securus Technologies, LLC. As positive as these achievements are, 2014 also marked a significant low point with the passing of Peggy Conway, a leader and advocate in the community corrections industry.

Peggy passed away late in the summer after complications from long-standing health issues. She was a pioneer in offender monitoring and her career started in the early 1990s when she worked for a manufacturer of electronic monitoring equipment. She eventually became an industry consultant and for 15 years served as the Editor of the Journal of Offender Monitoring. As a consultant, Peggy was regarded as a leading expert in the field of community supervision and technology. She worked with many organizations at all levels of government both domestically and internally as well as the private sector. She was a strong advocate for Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) and routinely encouraged professionals to seek out ways to improve their program and document the steps taken and their outcomes. Peggy served on many panels and wrote numerous articles on the topic of EBP throughout her career.

The void created by Peggy"s passing motivated a group of volunteers to preserve her legacy by forming a committee to create a scholarship. The Margaret (Peggy) Conway Memorial Scholarship is accepting donations to create a sustainable fund to help future criminal justice professionals while in college. Minds Against Crime is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization administering the scholarship fund. The goal is award a scholarship to a college student who is a junior or senior and studying criminal justice. The intent is to award the first scholarship at the American Probation and Parole Association"s (APPA) 40th Training Institute in July 2015. The scholarship recipient will be given free admission to the event so he/she can meet and interact with leading professionals and learn more about industry-related topics. The scholarship recipient will also receive a complete collection of published works and studies in the field of criminal justice courtesy of The Civic Research Institute, publisher of the Journal.

Some of us at STOP knew Peggy for many years and support this effort to remember her and her many contributions to the field of electronic monitoring and community corrections. If you would like to learn more about the scholarship or donate to it, please visit the Minds Against Crime web site. And if you know of a potential recipient, please contact the organization through its web site.

Journal of Offender Monitoring article authored by STOP employee

June 5th, 2014

Dennis Doffing, national director of service provider sales, has been a guest poster for Utterback’s Utterings. He has also written articles for an industry publication, Journal of Offender Monitoring. The most recent issue of the JOM (Vol. 25, Number 2) includes an article Dennis wrote about our newest device, BLU+ (blue-plus). Click here to read the article. To learn more about the Journal of Offender Monitoring, click here. Thanks to Mark Peel, publisher, for permitting Satellite Tracking of People LLC to use the article on this blog.

Check the accuracy of information, please

May 9th, 2014

Electronic monitoring has been in the news recently and some of the reporting was unflattering to the industry, but it was also inaccurate. It"s easier for reporters to simply get a quote about EM and draw incorrect conclusions about the technology because he didn t investigate further into what his source said. Because the reporter doesn’t take the time to conduct a good investigation on not just the incident itself, but the technology and its functionality and the agency and its protocols, checks and balances, etc., inaccurate information is passed along to the public that damages the reputation of the industry and the agencies using EM.

EM technology is a tool that can help supervising/correctional agencies better supervise their offenders in the community. Plain and simple it is just one more tool for agencies to use in addition to their other tools of the trade, such as assessments, random checks, drug/alcohol tests, family/work checks, etc. The basic questions to ask, since almost all offenders are released from prison at some point in their life, are:

  • Is it be better to know where the offenders are and where they go after they are released from prison?
  • Is it better to give offenders additional supervision until they reestablish themselves in the community?
  • And, is it better to give an offender an excuse for not hanging out with a certain individuals and/or group(s) of people?

If you answer “yes, it is better” to these questions, then those are reasons why supervising/correctional agencies should add EM technology into their supervision tools of the trade. We already know there isn’t a way to change one"s behavior without requiring the individual"s active participation. If there was, recidivism would’ve stopped long ago and a whole bunch of other things would have to be considered. And if there were a way to change one’s behavior without his active participation, I d immediately volunteer my services to be the one deciding whose behavior is to change. Just ask my friends and colleagues because I already try to do that and most of the time with limited success. Offering additional supervision and confirmation of pro-social behavior would support a positive reintegration into society. But people will still do dumb stuff. They will still get in trouble and owe society a debt for their crimes. However, when electronic monitoring programs are well-run operations, crimes that may be committed while in the program are solved quickly and action is swift. All of which help support changes in the offender"s behavior for the better.

The vast majority of offenders who were in an electronic monitoring program successfully complete their term of supervision. They committed no new crimes and followed the instructions of their supervising agent. How many of these people would have committed a crime were it not for an electronic monitoring device? That number is impossible to know, but I don t want to find out.

Establishment of task force important step to improving Federal corrections system

February 6th, 2014

Update: The Chuck Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections issued a competitive grant announcement. Click here for the document.

Original post:

The Omnibus spending bill Congress passed last month included funding for a committee tasked with studying federal prisons and making recommendations on a variety of issues, including prison overcrowding and improving rehabilitation and reentry procedures. One million dollars was allocated to the bi-partisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, which will have nine members.

This investment in the improvement of our federal corrections system has been needed for a long time. As I wrote previously, the United States simply can t afford to keep warehousing criminals. Hopefully, the establishment of this task force will be the first step toward a more effective corrections system, which more appropriately places each offender based on his or her criminal history and, psychological state, into an effective support structure and provides access to available resources.

The nation"s prisons are currently in an unsustainable situation for the long term. The system faces numerous issues including prison overcrowding, violence in prisons, prisoner rehabilitation and employment programs, and recidivism. By creating this task force, Congress has taken the necessary first steps to start a difficult conversation about the nation"s broken criminal justice system.

Fed. Probation Reform Act: Supports GPS Monitoring Programs

December 13th, 2013

U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei from New York State is proposing legislation to hold federal probationers accountable for tampering with electronic monitoring devices. Maffei introduced the Federal Probation System Reform Act hoping to prevent another incident like the one involving David Renz in Syracuse from happening again.

In March 2013, Renz removed an electronic monitoring device from his leg, raped a 10-year old girl and killed her mother. Maffei believes if his proposed legislation had been in place in March, it may have prevented the tragedy.

This critical legislation provides a heightened level of accountability for parolees, probationers and pretrial defendants who attempt to circumvent their supervision guidelines. Even a well-run program can be rendered powerless when supervision violations result in minimal negative consequences. Maffei"s proposed reform calls for stronger discipline to deter supervision violations.

According to Maffei"s proposed legislation, a probationer who tampers with an electronic monitoring device can receive up to one year in prison. A probationer who commits an additional crime after tampering with his/her device can receive a sentence of up to four years of incarceration on top of the punishment for the additional crime.

Provisions of the Federal Probation System Reform Act also strengthen the support given to the nation"s parole system. Maffei"s legislation calls for the appointment of an Inspector General to oversee all Federal Parole, Probation and Pretrial Services offices. Further, the bill establishes a nationwide policy for responding to alerts caused by tampering with electronic monitoring devices.

This bill would give much needed assistance to federal community supervision programs. It is an uphill battle to maintain control over probationers, parolees pretrial defendants when there are no substantial consequences for their failure to cooperate. The Federal System Reform Act is a positive step towards providing those consequences.

GPS Shielding: Why should you care?

May 28th, 2010

STOP introduced shielding technology because we listened to our customers’ comments … and we listened to what offenders were saying. If offenders can search the Internet and find information on how to prevent their location from being known, agencies should care.

GPS shielding is new technology. No other company provides it except STOP. With new technology there are categories of adopters: early adopters, majority and laggards. Many agencies were early adopters. They believe offenders are working against their supervision. The early-adopter agencies actively respond to the alerts and correct the behavior. They see the value of having the information the alert provides.

Others are in the majority. They take a more measured response. They see value in the alerts, but don’t have a formalized protocol. They confront the offender after numerous alerts. And finally, a couple of agencies are laggards. They see the alert as just another issue to deal with and an increase in the agents’ workload.

This alert, however, is different than others, like message gap, which occurs due to environmental conditions beyond the control of the agency, STOP or the offender. The shielding alert is the direct result of offender actions. STOP has done extensive testing to almost eliminate false alerts. There is still possibility of a false alert, however, a slight possibility. But all alerts have the possibility of a false reading. There are few guarantees with advanced technology. We constantly analyze alert data and tweak the technology when we find ways to improve it. We also provide certifications on all alerts, including GPS shielding, that can be used in administrative hearings and court proceedings.

Don’t be a laggard. Let us help you understand the technology and how it improves your monitoring program and public safety.

Streetview in VeriTracks

June 18th, 2010

In the June 3rd release of VeriTracks 10.5, we added Streetview by GoogleMaps" to your viewing options. Streetview allows easy review of locations that are unfamiliar to you. The map displays what it looks" like when you drive by the location in your car. This should help you better understand the environment your enrollee"s are hanging out in.

And when investigations determine that your enrollee is in an area where he shouldn t be, you can now integrate the Streetview images into a print out. This can be used for court and administrative hearings, as well as case file documentation.

The ability to print maps from VeriTracks was a frequent request and we didn t want to just print the map from the screen. We wanted to provide you with the most information available about your enrollee"s whereabouts. Now with the print out showing location points and Streetview images, it gives the most complete picture of his location.

Now, if we can only find a way to make those images include the activities of the enrollee …

The need for speed

June 21st, 2010

In the recent customer survey (quick side note: the more people who respond, the better STOP gets), one of the more common issues brought up was the speed of VeriTracks. We hear you and are working on options as I write this post.

But I want to provide a little color on our system and why some people think it’s slow. VeriTracks is written for the world of Web 2.0, which provides a dynamic environment for you on the web. Remember back in the day (not that long ago), every website was just text with the occasional picture? Now we have Flash movies (pretty standard, just don’t tell Apple), annoying music, pulsating advertisements, crazy backgrounds and other web advancements that make me long for the days of just banner ads.

VeriTracks is written in Java script, allowing for quick movement within the application and rapid recall of loaded information. Where we get criticized for being slow, we make up with more information that’s accessible in an extremely short period of time when fully loaded. Think about the Supervision tab. Within it you can look at all your offenders, which can be two or 200. We load that information once and allow you to return to it without having to reload, thus" improving your experience in VeriTracks.

Other tracking applications are linear. They may appear quicker at first, but you can only do one thing at a time. Within VeriTracks, you can enroll someone, review current enrollees, check inventory and run a bunch of reports simultaneous. In other applications, you have to go to the menu and select what you want to do first. Then go back to the menu and select what you want to do next. That doesn’t seem fast too me or efficient.

Now that I’ve provided some background on why we chose Java script for VeriTracks 10.0, we’re working on ways to rev up the application. One way is with Google Chrome. There are limitations for many agencies to use Chrome, but that browser was written for Java script. Google saw the future and created a great browser. However, some items within VeriTracks don’t work properly and we’re addressing that in subsequent releases.

On another positive note, Microsoft is great at copying and Internet Explorer 9.0 works even better (coming soon to a computer near you in 2011 or in government speed 2014). We are also working on tweaking the internal code of certain frequently used screens to make a noticeable difference with current versions of Internet Explorer.

STOP strives to make your job of supervision as efficient and effective as possible. We provide more tools to you than any other monitoring company. There are trade offs and now we want to make sure that everyone is happy.

Strengthening domestic violence protection orders with GPS

August 2nd, 2010

Domestic violence has always been an issue, but in recent years it’s been the focus of more attention from legislators and media outlets. I knew domestic violence was a relatively common event, but I was surprised to learn the number of victims. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states one in four women in the United States suffers from physical, emotional and sexual attacks by partners in her lifetime.

Between July 2009 and May 2010, a large California county family court system issued more than 5,300 temporary restraining orders related to domestic violence cases. These cases didn’t involve divorce or criminal behavior as an underlying reason.

STOP recently released Stalker Alert, a victim notification device, that’s used in conjunction with BluTag.

Defendants who are court-ordered to have their movements tracked by BluTag must follow the rules and restrictions associated with an order of protection and any other legal warrants. At the same time, the victim’s provided with a Stalker Alert device and educated on using it.

Most GPS devices today rely on static areas where the defendant’s ordered to stay away from. With Stalker Alert, the orders of protection allow a buffer zone to follow the victim as he/she live their lives. They aren’t restricted to stay in their home because they will be alerted of the defendant’s violation of the protection order.

In the event the defendant comes within a predetermined distance of the victim, Stalker Alert generates an alert, which is sent to the victim and the supervising officer and law enforcement if necessary. This customizable notification device may allow the victim to implement his/her personal protection plan and request assistance.

Any option allowing better notification to a victim regarding potential conflict is worth the investment.

Training Institute: Successful Communication and Commaraderie

September 2nd, 2010

Similar to the Company tag line, Tracking Success, our recent Training Institutes continued a track record of success perhaps more successful than in the past because of using a new format. Over 70 agencies gathered in San Diego, California, and Chicago, Illinois, to learn more about our products and services. And, most important to me, the attendees provided valuable feedback on our products and services, so can make sure they meet our customers’ needs.

During the day-and-a-half conference, I learned so much more about you, our customers, including how you use our systems and how STOP may meet all of your electronic monitoring needs. The sessions focusing on our future releases and the necessary specifics to ensure your own Tracking Success were insightful and provided STOP with a clearer road map for new and enhanced functionality.

I hope the new contacts you made with fellow colleagues and peers during our evening activities lead to a valuable resource for bouncing ideas off of, collaborating and problem solving. Of course our STOP staff members are available at anytime to discuss your programs, but I realize some of you need additional information from fellow agencies to better utilize our products and services.

Our staff members at the Institutes were energized and pleased with the outcome and look forward to following-up and implementing your suggestions in future products and service s. Please remember: we want to hear from you any time you have an issue or a comment. My phone number and email address are always available.

Tracking Success: more than our tagline

September 23rd, 2010

Many of you may have noticed a new tagline for STOP, Tracking Success. The rollout of our tagline is an important step toward actively communicating our commitment to you, our customers, and your clients.

Tracking Success takes on many meanings for STOP. The obvious correlation is our products and how they provide the best tracking, which in turn creates higher levels of client accountability and community safety and, ultimately, resulting in successful programs. But our tagline also shows STOP’s commitment to the success of your clients. VeriTracks includes many functions that can help you effectively track clients and their successful completion of a monitoring or community supervision program.

Also, using GPS or RF monitoring has shown better compliance by clients, allowing for more success in their lives as well. We want to highlight these successes and show how our products and services make your people and programs successful. A major initiative for our 2010 Training Institute was the introduction of evidence-based practices using our products and services. This was only the fist step in showing participating agencies how to highlight their successes with GPS and RF monitoring.

Tracking Success and its correlations will take on a more prominent role in our communications with you. Our tagline is part of STOP employees email signatures, marketing materials, web site and most pieces distributed to current and future customers. Its prominence in our communications allows us to reinforce our commitment to success programs, customers and clients.

System health monitors help ensure continuous operations

November 12th, 2010

Last month an electronic monitoring vendor experienced a prolonged system outage. Such events have affected many of the best technology companies in the world, including Blackberry, Twitter and Facebook. All of these reliable, reputable technology companies have had their systems go down unexpectedly at one time or another. At Satellite Tracking of People, we work hard to avoid system outages.

To start, we architected VeriTracks with layers of redundancy. Our system is scaled horizontally in each of our Data Centers, which means individual components of the system, such as a power unit, a server or a cooling unit, can fail without impacting the entire system. Any one component can go down, yet the system will continue running normally. Our Data Centers are geographically separated, which allows us to quickly restore operations at the second site should the first one experience a catastrophic failure.

We also have an extensive monitoring system proactively watching the system’s operations. We have more than 1,000 individual monitors checking all aspects of system operations. Our monitors report everything from available storage space, the number of BluTag devices and BluHome units calling in at any given time, to the health of each individual server and the data storage disk. Because these monitors notify our staff of instances of exceeded thresholds early on, appropriate actions can be taken 24/7 to avoid a major system issue.

Our systems are designed with high availability and robust monitoring. We routinely test the system’s response capability to catastrophic situations and third parties double check our work. Recently our entire software system successfully passed an independent security assessment in accordance with the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Pub 800-53. This assessment reviews and analyzes the management, operational and technical safeguards or countermeasures prescribed for an information system to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the system and its information.

No vendor or agency wants an experience similar to what happened last week. But we realize it may have created some question in your mind about what STOP does to prevent such an occurrence. We wanted to share with you our daily routine to prevent such a catastrophic event and how we ensure that you can always access your monitoring data.

Needed immediately: review and evaluation of criminal justice system

November 18th, 2010

The time has come for all aspects of the criminal justice system to be reviewed and reevaluated. The United States simply can’t afford to continue warehousing criminals. Each offender should be evaluated for appropriate placement based on criminal history, psychological state, support structure and available resources. However, the lack of available resources shouldn’t be an additional punishment to those needing them. It should be the obligation of our government to provide options to courts and supervision agencies to reintegrate an offender back into society. I am not delusional in thinking all offenders can be rehabilitated. There are some offenders who should be offered the most stringent punishment available for their crimes.

As researchers continue to study and evaluate alternatives to incarceration, more agencies need to take that next step and put those findings into practice. How can STOP help with these next steps? What can we do to help integrate supervision strategies into everyday agency activities? Let’s start that discussion now.

Using STOP’s Monitoring Center: Best practice option

November 29th, 2010

STOP continually looks for ways to help our customers run the best electronic monitoring programs. One best practice option that can help establish consistent management of events is using the services offered by our Monitoring Center.

We offer our own Monitoring Center, which is staffed 24/7/365 with skilled technicians who receive event alerts (or notifications) and manages events based on the agency’s protocols. Agency instructions for managing events and violations are called protocols.

These instructions are input into the Monitoring Center widget in VeriTracks and displayed for our staff members to follow for every type of event or violation we manage for an agency. For example, if an enrollee generates a low battery alert, an agency may want our Monitoring Center technicians to manage the event by instructing the enrollee to attach the charging coupler to the bottom of BluTag. If an enrollee violates an exclusion zone, the agency may want our technicians to call the local police department so immediate action can be taken.

Protocols can also include details such as if an enrollee doesn’t respond to a telephone call within 30 minutes of violating an inclusion zone, an escalation tree, which is set up in advance by the agency, begins.

By leveraging STOP’s experience and 24/7 operations, large and small agencies can operate an efficient community supervision program. Let your account manager know how we can help.

Evidence Based Practice and VeriTracks Tools to support your success!

December 9th, 2010

Dennis Doffing, STOP’s national sales manager for service providers, writes the following post on Evidence-Based Practices. Thanks, Dennis, for sharing your knowledge with our readers.

At our 2010 Training Institutes we offered a session on EBP as it pertains to GPS monitoring. Because the use of GPS in community supervision settings has grown swiftly, we sometimes don’t think about how to fully utilize the available tools to generate the needed data for EBP documentation.. You can use our products for more than tracking to/from home and work. VeriTracks has a number of options for use in an EBP environment. Examples include using:

  • Silent Inclusion Zones to monitor attendance and duration at key counseling and rehabilitation meetings. Listing AA meeting locations, outpatient treatment address, etc. as zones gives you an easy way to see if enrollees went and how long they stayed.
  • Silent Exclusion Zones to map out undesirable places, such as known drug areas, gang houses or areas of interest, to show if enrollees visited that location without requiring you to respond in real time to an alert. You can determine if a random drug test is in order or if the enrollees merely drove by the location on the way to work or some other approved location.
  • Caseload or Agency-wide summary reports such as Enrollee Events Summary Table or Notification Summary by Event Type can assist in determining where you to focus attention to reduce events and improve overall program performance. Both are among the more than 100 online reports in VeriTracks Reports tab.
  • The Reasoncode consistently applied when un-enrolling an enrollee provides you with better data over time when reviewing how and why people leave your program. Taking this extra step also helps better define and provide a benchmark of success for you, your program and the enrollees.

All of our end-users know what they need in their particular area of expertise and application of STOP equipment in their programs. If you are using VeriTracks and STOP’s products to assist in your own evidence-based practices please share your ideas in the comments section. We all learn from the combined pool of knowledge!

Tracking Success in action

December 22nd, 2010

One of our customers in Florida uses GPS monitoring technology to help reduce its jail population, which results in lower the overall costs for operating the jail. There’s" a link to the case study describing the agency’s success and approach to GPS supervision and the benefits" it has" realized in a short period of time. There are more like this and I’ll share them in 2011.

I look forward to discussing the exciting projects and products STOP is developing for 2011. I’m sure all of you will benefit from the suggestions that you and your fellow"sTOP system users" have made.

Case Study St-Lucie County Pretrial, Florida

National Stalking Awareness Month

February 1st, 2011

Stalker Alert, a victim notification device

January 2011 was the eighth observance of National Stalking Awareness Month. This designation resulted from the diligent work of the National Center for Victims of Crime to increase awareness of stalking and its prevelence. According to the Stalking Resource Center, 3.4 million people who are of the age of 18 are staked each year, and 3 in 4 victims are stalked by someone they know. STOP worked hard to develop Stalker Alert, a product to notify victims of the presence of known stalkers.

Stalker Alert provides 24-hour advanced notice to a victim regarding the presence of the accused stalker no matter where the victim is located at the time. Previous systems relied on exclusion zones, or prohibited areas for the stalker, around the victim"s home, work and other designated locations. But notification did not occur if the victim went outside of these fixed locations. With Stalker Alert, a victim can resume her normal routine while having the ability to receive advance notice about the presence of the known stalker"so she can implement her safety plan.

For more important information about stalking, visit

High success rate for Sheriff’s Office’s GPS monitoring program

February 7th, 2011

BluTag GPS Monitoring Device

One of our customers in California uses GPS monitoring technology to help reduce its jail population while maintaining a high level of public safety and enrollee accountability. The level of success this Sheriff’s Office experiences with its GPS monitoring program is due in large part to the flexibility each supervising officer is afforded to help set up enrollees for success while ensuring accountability. Additionally, the supervising officers are armed, sworn law enforcement officers, which allows them to immediately bring in an enrollee in violation of his/her program. Read more about this successful program by clinking here.

Help support S.306, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2011

February 18th, 2011

Earlier this legislative session, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia re-introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act (NCJCA). It’s an important first step for addressing the problems with the criminal justice system. This commission will be tasked with the monumental effort of recommending concrete recommendations to reduce the number of individuals in our prisons and look for alternatives to protect the public, while offering rehabilitative and restitution opportunities.

According to the BJS (Bureau of Justice Statistics), more than 2.3 million men and women are in prisons throughout the U.S. Although our incarceration rate is the highest in the world, more than half of all people released from U.S. prisons re-enter the system within three years.

The NCJCA is currently supported by 20 Senators and has widespread bipartisan support. The NCJCA was passed by the House of Representatives during the previous legislative session, the 111th Congress, but was not brought to the Senate Floor.

It’s time to make a huge effort to pass the NCJCA in 2011. The experts and stakeholders that will be on the Commission can provide an important road map for the future of our criminal justice system. Please contact the U.S. Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator/Representative. You can also search online to find out who represents you in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and contact them. Express your support for S. 306 and make the 112th Congress the year NCJCA is enacted.

GPS Shielding Detection Revisited

March 15th, 2011

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about our GPS Shielding detection capability with BluTag, so I thought I’d revisit it.

When BluTag’s ability to detect an enrollee’s deliberate attempt to"shield, or block, the GPS signal was first introduced, many agencies felt it was just another alert. This may have been a premature reaction to an important event that needs closer scrutiny. Now many of those early detractors are the biggest supporter of this valuable tool.

Overall, the number of enrollees who have a Shielding event is less than 2 percent. However, the event occurs multiple times for those enrollees, which shows a pattern the supervising officer should investigate.

Since STOP is the only vendor that was proactive in providing this information to our customers, we are on the forefront of addressing this issue and preventing the manipulation of GPS technology. Some agencies have used this event to remand an enrollee into custody, charge them with a new crime or further restrict his activities as a progressive sanction.

If you already use BluTag, talk to your account manager about best practices for reviewing Shielding events so appropriate action can be taken. If you aren’t a current customer and want this functionality, contact me and we’ll talk.

Catching just one enrollee interfering with BluTag’s ability to receive GPS signals may send a bigger message to your agency’s enrollee population about your drive to better protect the community, while providing proper supervision of their activities.

Supervision technology needed tools for enrollee accountability and public safety

July 7th, 2011

Satellite Tracking of People LLC has been showcasing some of our customers’ innovative use of GPS technology. This Indiana county agency depends on technology to help supervising agents maintain a high level of enrollee accountability while maintaining safety in the community. The agency uses not only BluTag to supervise enrollees, but also the SleepTime technology, developed by StreeTime Technologies, for monitoring alcohol and drug usage. BluTag’s internal electronics provides the agency with the needed information to determine if an enrollee has used prohibited substances. Click here to learn more about this innovative and forward-thinking agency.

GPS Jamming – Isn’t that illegal?

September 7th, 2011

I know it may come as a surprise that some of the individuals our customer’s supervise may commit illegal acts while on supervision. Good supervision techniques catch most offender’s illegal activities, but what can the GPS device on their ankle tell you? Yes, it tells the locations the offender frequents and the route he or she took to get there. But what if the offender doesn’t want you to know where he is?

Recently, there has been an increase in awareness of the presence of GPS jammers by law enforcement agencies. These ILLEGAL devices are available through many distribution channels and their cost has decreased to a point where many people can afford them.

BluTag GPS Monitoring Device

First, yes, they are illegal to own and operate. It is a violation of Federal law. Second, they have limited range and functionality. Third, BluTag, STOP’s GPS monitoring device, can tell you if an offender is attempting to jam the GPS signal. No other GPS monitoring device available on the market today can provide this information.

Using proprietary technology, BluTag can send you a notification when an offender may be attempting to jam the GPS signals. The device detects and reports the presence of and as a tool helps you look for patterns in the offender’s behavior and habits. This notification is similar to our Shielding event, but is more frequently used for detecting behavioral patterns.

You should want to know this information. STOP can provide it. Call us: 866-525-8824.

2011 Training Institute Space City Success

October 7th, 2011
Satellite Tracking of People"s annual Training Institute just concluded in our hometown, Houston, a.k.a. "space City. More than 120 attendees from 67 agencies received advanced training on our monitoring system, heard about new developments with our software and hardware and shared suggestions with us so we can develop our road map for future activities.

My coworkers conducted training in subjects ranging from the basics of our software and services to utilizing evidence-based practices to increase funding and for program justification. While at the Training Institute, attendees also networked with each other and talked about how their programs operate and learned from the success of others.

I also had the opportunity to introduce a new product coming in 2012 and new strap attachments. This new device and attachment will make the coming year something great for STOP. I can t wait to talk more about them!

It was my hope the Training Institute attendees learned something new, enjoyed the views of Minute Maid Park and understood STOP"s commitment to their success and that of their agency. See you next year.

10 Things an Agency Should Consider When Changing EM Providers

November 2nd, 2011

As the electronic monitoring industry has matured, government agencies and service providers are changing vendors more frequently. There are some very important questions agency directors should ask before making a change. I ve broken the questions down into 10 subject areas.

  1. Budget How much does the equipment and service REALLY cost? Are there hidden costs that will make it hard for my agency to operate within its budget? Are there additional fees for monitoring services, on-site inventory, insurance, data transmissions, shipping, court testimony, etc.? If my agency needs to put 25 offenders on Electronic Monitoring, will I end up being able to afford only 20 when all other costs are factored into the total price? How much will it cost in staffing and other direct costs?
  2. Ease of Transition Will the prospective vendor provide services to assist with the transition? Will the vendor provide all necessary training and support services?
  3. References What are other agencies saying about the prospective vendor"s service/support and system?
  4. System functionality Will my current computers and communication system support the prospective vendor"s software application? Do I risk catching malware/spyware/viruses with downloading or installing software on individual computers? Are there limitations on accessing the vendor"s software application?
  5. Latest technology If a product is enhanced, will I receive the enhancement under the terms and conditions of my contract with the prospective vendor?
  6. Equipment functions Can I test the equipment on actual offenders prior to signing a contract? Do the features I test meet the specifications provided by the vendor?
  7. Geographic circumstances Is there good cellular phone coverage in my area to run an effective program? Are there limitations concerning where I can use the equipment due to space or access to proper utilities?
  8. Communication after implementation Are there any services the new vendor will provide after the initial implementation to reinforce training or system understanding? Do I have a dedicated account manager who can assist outside of normal technical support?
  9. Staff support Is my staff supportive of a change? Were they involved with the selection process? Do they see the value a new vendor can bring to our program?
  10. Trust Can I trust the vendor to perform as they pitched during the sale? What assurances do I have the program will succeed with the new vendor?

If your vendor struggles with answering your questions" look again.

My next entry will explain how STOP can answer all these questions and more

Why agencies choose STOP with confidence

November 22nd, 2011

Earlier this month, I listed 10 things agencies should consider before changing vendors. Now comes the easy part for me: explaining why agencies confidently choose Satellite Tracking of People as their new provider of GPS and RF enrollee monitoring system and services.

(1) Budget STOP consistently offers our products and services at or below competitor prices. And when agencies do dig a little deeper into pricing, STOP comes out as the best value almost every time. There are no additional costs for anything we do. What"s included?

– Shipping
– Reasonable levels of shelf/spare equipment
– Certification letters for court activities relating to the location of an enrollee(s)
– Consumables (straps, strap clips, etc.
– On-site and online training courses

So making a budget is simple. Multiply STOP"s per diem by the number of people you supervise by 365 days will give you the maximum STOP will charge your agency.

(2) Ease of Transition STOP recently completed two transitions from one vendor"s system to ours and collectively involved more than 2,000 devices. This was done over a seven-week period with the assistance from more than eight STOP staff members. We provided all the necessary on-site training courses, training materials, transition personnel, devices and technical services and support.

(3) References Just ask, and I"ll send you a list!

(4) System functionality VeriTracks, STOP"s software application, is 100% internet based. There is no risk of viruses, security breaches or malicious software invading your agency"s IT system or individual computers. Our system is also customizable for your specific needs. There are options your agency may choose not to use on day 1, but introduce at a later date. Also, VeriTracks can customize the alerts you receive, allowing you to focus on the highest priority items.

(5) Latest technology STOP is on version 5 of our GPS device and version 2 of our RF device. Each time we upgrade our devices, we provide them at no additional charge to the agency.

(6) Equipment functions Test our equipment and entire system for two weeks free. We ll provide all the training and supplies necessary for you to effectively put our system through its paces. Our support team will provide daily support by reviewing tracks, alerts, etc., so you fully understand how our equipment and services work.

(7) Geographic and environmental circumstances STOP provides multiple cellular carriers to give you the best coverage possible. Also, since our hardware is small, there is little need for large storage closets or cabinets for shelf stock. And we ship our equipment in minimal packaging to reduce our footprint in your offices and impact on the environment.

(8) Communication after implementation STOP"s implementation and service doesn t stop after the devices are installed on enrollees. We also provide proactive customer assistance and support for up to 90 days after installing equipment on enrollees. During this time, our technical support agents contact agency officers daily to discuss their caseloads and to offer suggestions for improving compliance or additional training. This is provided at no additional charge.

(9) Staff support Most agency officers who participate in the testing our equipment in preparation of possible switching to our system understand the benefits of it. It is vital for officers who will use the equipment and software have first-hand experience using it prior to the agency switching. If officers feel like they need more time than the usual two-week free trial of our system, we gladly provide it. We know it is important to the overall success of transitioning from one vendor"s system to ours that frontline officers feel comfortable and have confidence in the prospective system.

(10) Trust — We’ll earn your trust from Day 1. You’ll just have to trust me on this one …

Now that the advantages of STOP are spelled out what are you waiting for?!

2011 will soon be over, welcome 2012!

December 8th, 2011

2011 was a difficult year for most government agencies. Budgets were cut, long term employees were offered early retirement and released offenders struggled to find jobs making many resort to crime again.

However, there was some good news in 2011. Many correctional and supervision agencies were forced to rethink how they handle their huge prison populations. Most polls indicate citizens are tired of huge correctional budgets and cutting education funding to pay to incarcerate so many people. There is a mindset shift to finally deal with those offenders whom we are simply mad at in a different way than those whom we are "scare of.

We should continue to have strong laws protecting us from those offenders who would make it hard to relax in our community or sleep at night if they were roaming the streets. However, it’s time to recognize some offenders can be punished for their crime yet be rehabilitated and pay restitution to the victim or court and maintain or strengthen family connections.

At STOP, we ve been fortunate to help many agencies as they ve shifted their handling of offender populations. Many now use GPS as the effective supervision tool on all ranges of offenders. And when Automated Crime Scene Correlation is used, agencies have the most effective supervision tool available.

STOP added more than 100 agencies as new customers in 2011. These programs range from five-unit programs that had never used GPS or RF before to 1,500-unit programs using other electronic monitoring equipment. This was an amazing year and a test for our outstanding team members. I"m happy to say I d give them all an A (even without a curve).

2012 will be another great year for STOP. We re positioned to expand our portfolio of equipment, reimagine our software interface and add features and options not available in the industry today.

On behalf of STOP, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

BLU That means something?

February 23rd, 2012

As many of you know, B-L-U are the first three letters of almost all of our hardware products. We have BLUtag for GPS tracking, BLUband for RF house arrest devices, BLUscan for our mobile monitoring unit, BLUhome for our home monitoring unit, BLUbox for our GPS home accessory unit and BLU+, an awesome new product coming out in 2012.

I ve been asked for many years if BLU stood for anything. Well, here"s the story. Back around the turn of the 21st century, our current Vice President of Engineering was developing the original one-piece GPS tracking device for a United Kingdom project across the pond, GPS tracking and RF devices are called tags. Throughout the development process of the device, people called it The Blue Tag since the case color was blue. Once the device was ready to launch, no one wanted to change the name. So the decision was made to change it to an acronym and drop the in blue. So, BLUtag and the Best Location Unit was created.

In 2012, STOP has begun reinforcing this branding. You will see our device names change in print to reflect the capital B-L-U and further announcements of Best Location Units. While some may feel this is quite a boast, I welcome the opportunity to prove to any agency we can provide the BEST units available. And the service is pretty amazing as well.

Look for further communications about BLU and our new products in the coming months. And I hope you enjoy the pictures of early case iterations for “The Blue Tag.”

Early BLUtag designs

BLUtag today

Handling inquiries from news reporters and others

March 20th, 2012

Today’s post is penned by a guest blogger, Dennis Doffing, National Sales Manager for Service Providers, at Satellite Tracking of People. He has posted on using VeriTracks for evidence-based practices in the past. I appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge with the readers.

I’m happy to get another opportunity to be a Guest Utterer on Greg"s Blog. Remember the old joke you know it will be a bad day when you arrive at work and a 60 Minutes crew is waiting in the lobby? Well, running an EM program means at some point you or your agency will come to the attention of news reporters, local and otherwise. Preparation by having some guidelines in place NOW will be a great help when reporters call about an incident.

Check what your agency may already have in place to handle requests from news reporters. Most agencies have a designated media relations department or public information professional. Take time to get to know these people or the individual professional and help them understand the mission of the program and the tools used to help keep enrollees accountable and change their behavior. Also explain how the program and its available tools help maintain a high level of public safety. Give them a list of contact people, including phone numbers and email addresses for inquiries received after hours or on weekends/holidays. Make sure you update the list of contact people when needed, such as changes in responsibilities, new hires or new phone/email information.

The media relations department or public information professional can likely provide training to you and/or your staff for talking to reporters. Prior to talking to a reporter, know what information can be released and adhere to the privacy laws in your jurisdiction. Privacy laws differ by state but most have information classified as public, private and confidential. For example, names of enrollees may be public due to open court information (not so with most juvenile cases), but addresses, schedules and victim information is likely classified as private or confidential.

Other ideas and considerations include:

  • Have a media packet available for reporters, which provides good background information. This usually consists of general program information, sample forms, equipment brochure, program statistics, general profile of the type of individual enrolled in the program, reports documenting evidence-based practices, industry standards" and the like. If your agency publishes an annual report, include it in the information packet.
  • Gather relevant information, reports and data on a situation as soon as possible. Also, discuss with staff members and others the need to route all media requests to the agency"s media relations department or public information professional. Reporters already know to start there, but they also want the opportunity for exclusive information and/or interviews, so they may contact you or others in your agency directly.
  • Provide a timely response to a reporter"s request. Even though all reporters work on strict deadlines, it"s okay to take time to research an answer to a question. But don t avoid reporters and their questions. Doing so can only make you and/or agency look bad to the reading/viewing public or cause the reporter to escalate his/her request to the agency"s administration or a legal subpoena.
  • Generate a simple media response policy if your agency doesn t already have one. It can be as straightforward as the agency doesn t comment on personnel issues or doesn t comment on pending violation investigations. Whatever the policy, make sure your staff knows it and strictly adheres to it.
  • When speaking to reporters, be aware of sound bites. You may answer a question with a long narrative response, but what airs in the TV report or is published in the newspaper or a web site is a very small portion of that answer. It"s the portion of your response the reporter deems to be the most relevant or news worthy to the overall story. Work the theme into your response whenever possible. This takes practice and the media relations department or public information professional can help you develop sound-bite friendly responses through training.
  • Get to know local reporters when not in the midst of a situation. Media outlets remain hungry for news and information, especially since many of them are looking to fill 24 hours of programming every day. Work with the media relations department or public information professional to proactively pitch stories to the reporter(s) covering criminal justice issues in your jurisdiction. It could be a possible story on the positive impact your program is having on enrollees, their family and the community; key points from a report highlighting positive statistics or dollar savings to taxpayers.

This is only a brief overview on some ideas related to reporter interactions. It"s important to know who in your agency is the go-to person for inquiries from news reporters and how to respond to questions from reporters. Preparation is key and will serve you well during times of stress.

Educating your constituents

April 27th, 2012

Today’s post is again penned by Dennis Doffing, our National Sales Manager, Service Providers. As a reminder, he has shared his knowledge most recently about working with reporters when enrollee-related incidents happen in your agency. He’s also provided guidance on using the robust reporting capability in VeriTracks to document and support your agency’s evidence-based practices. As always, I appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge with my readers.

In this post for Utterback"s Utterings I want to discuss the importance of improving the awareness of your Electronic Monitoring program to your constituents through education. Constituents, as defined here, are everyone with a vested interest in your EM program. This can include funding sources, referral sources, public support agencies, client support groups and other key public officials. By title they are legislators, commissioners, judges, prosecuting/defense attorneys, public defenders, Sheriffs, jail administrators, victim advocates and many others. So many different people and groups are stakeholders in local programming, such as offender supervision, it makes sense to keep them up to speed on just what you are doing.

Why educate; what’s the benefit
A planned education session is very helpful to show your constituents the technology, hardware, software, program rules, policies and other aspects of your operation in an objective setting. Today all agencies have increasing responsibilities many times in conjunction with significant reductions in budget allocations or stagnant budgets, which becomes a reduction over time. All of which can create an urgent feeling to take the least complicated resolution to individual cases or broad classifications of cases.

The situation can over-simplify the handling of individual cases or offenders by backing the diverse group of constituents in your program into their individual roles and not necessarily looking at the larger picture. For example, defense attorneys will advocate the use of GPS as an alternative to jail while maintaining public safety and offender accountability. Alternatively the prosecution will advocate for the use of jail or other more stringent sanctions. This is the job of these constituents as part of the criminal justice system"s checks and balances. And what is the outcome of this situation? The loss of determining if a sanction or program is applicable to the situation because the whole picture and the goals of the program aren t visible or understood this results in each party fulfilling a specific role.

Who to educate and how
In the past, I successfully submitted a two-hour education curriculum to a state bar association"s Continuing Legal Education group as well as a state"s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) group. Attendees from both groups earned Continuing Education Units from their respective professional organization. The curriculum for both was the same and used nearly identical materials.

I put together a panel of people to speak on various aspects of the EM program, including the manufacturer"s rep, the local program coordinator and, even a judge who was an early supporter of this alternative. Equipment was scattered on the tables for attorneys, police officers and jail staff to handle and study. Packets of information included basic promotional materials, program rules, offender contracts and referral information. A computer and projector allowed us to show reports, alerts and tracking data on demo clients so everyone could view how the system worked and what information was provided to the agency with the EM program. Participation in the forum was active with lots of questions. It was a good forum for all the stakeholders to hear the same answers together as well as start discussions on who may be most appropriate to refer to the agency"s EM program. The common ground covered in the educational forum helped with future discussions among the various stakeholders and created better understanding of the program and its goals and objectives.

Continue the dialogue
Another way to provide ongoing updates and information is through a newsletter or blog (such as this one!). If your department has a newsletter, blog or social media presence, see if you can become a regular contributor by providing updates on new technology, law changes, ongoing statistics, etc. Telling readers/followers how many jail days were saved or juvenile detention stays avoided in the last month/quarter is powerful information. What percentage of clients successfully completed the program last quarter? And of those not successful, why not?

Finally, keep track of the constituents showing interest in your efforts to provide ongoing objective data and information. If an event happens in or near your jurisdiction, you can quickly contact this smaller group of interested constituents to provide whatever background or position your agency may have and help diffuse a problematic situation or further a positive one.

Finally, a new outcomes study released

July 13th, 2012

It"s been years since a significant study of the efficacy of GPS on reducing recidivism and increasing compliance was completed and released. The original large-scale study was released in the mid-2000"s and nothing had been completed until recently. On March 31, 2012, Development Services Group, Inc. released a 100-page report on Monitoring High-Risk Sex Offenders with GPS Technology: An Evaluation of the California Supervision Program. This report was prepared through a grant from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Although I found it an interesting read, to cut to the chase, the study showed, although slightly more expensive than traditional supervision, GPS monitoring improved program compliance and reduced recidivism when compared to the control group.

Important points of the report include the size of the study and the approach the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) takes to supervise parolees in the community. The Department provides an intensive supervision model few agencies employ, with lower case loads, available treatment programs and progressive sanctions.

I suggest you take some time to read this report and see how STOP can help you put together a program as successful as CDCR"s. The study can be found at

Reducing the unknown and making smoother transitions when changing EM vendors

October 30th, 2012

I presented a workshop at APPA’s 37th Annual Training Institute in Indianapolis this summer. The workshop focused on reducing the unknown when agencies change vendors for electronic monitoring and how to help ensure a smooth transition to the new vendor. Click here for the slide deck on the presentation. If you want more information or would like to discuss any of the slides, feel free to contact me.

California study: low repeat offense rate for those under supervision

February 6th, 2013

The assumption that most arrests involve people who are on parole or probation is unfounded according to an extensive study recently completed in the state of California. The study, conducted in four cities by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, found approximately one in five arrests involved an individual under probation or parole supervision; the majority of arrests involved people who were not under supervision.

The study, the first of its kind, focused on more than 2.5 million adult arrest, probation supervision and parole supervision records from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and Redlands between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011, which is shortly before California"s Prison Realignment legislation went into effect. The study provides valuable baseline information to use in gauging the future effectiveness of the realignment, which moved the supervision of California"s parolees into the counties hands from the state.

While the over-all results of the study indicate those on parole and probation are not likely to be arrested, there is one type of arrest to which they are disproportionately susceptible. More than one-third of drug arrests analyzed in the study involved people on parole and probation. One theory posited for this discrepancy is those individuals on parole and probation are more likely to suffer from mental illness and/or drug dependency issues. The researchers propose an increase in mental health and drug addiction services for those under supervision may be an appropriate response to this finding.

The study concludes the most effective way to reduce crime is to focus on the 80 percent of the population not under supervision. In addition, the researchers advise augmenting these efforts by better targeting the small portion of the parole and probation population who are disproportionately breaking laws, especially drug-related ones.

Obviously, more research is needed, particularly in California with the implementation of the Realignment legislation. However, this study, which happened with extensive cooperation between the police chiefs of all four cities and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, provides a good starting point for discussing many aspects of community supervision. Among those areas needing more discussion include how electronic monitoring can improve collaboration between parole, probation and law enforcement agencies. Hopefully states, counties and cities across the nation will take these results and not just talk about the issues, but work diligently toward solutions.

GPS technology continues to be a valuable tool for supervising agencies

February 18th, 2013

A recent news story in the Washington Post reports less than 10 percent of the 1,351 defendants released from custody into the DC Pretrial Services Agency"s GPS monitoring program in 2012 were charged with new a crime. The story notes in 2012 at least 11 pretrial defendants were charged with violent crimes while awaiting trial.

It is always disturbing when a crime is committed, especially a violent one. However, the crucial role GPS monitoring devices play in effectively supervising enrollees in the community cannot be negated by infractions like the ones described in Washington Post story. The need for using GPS technology to monitor, supervise and track the movements of various populations, such as pretrial defendants, gang members, sex offenders, etc., continues due to the realities of our criminal justice system.

Facing crowded jails and back-logged court dockets, judges, prosecutors and other court officials often face difficult decisions when determining if a defendant can be back on the street until his/her trial date. GPS provides a viable option the best one short of continued incarceration or 24/7 shadowing by a law enforcement official when it comes to monitoring a defendant"s whereabouts.

In addition, on the rare occasions an enrollee a GPS monitoring program does commit a new crime, the tracking system provides law enforcement officials with vital information about the enrollee"s location around the time of the crime. Most importantly, GPS data has and continues to lead officials to an enrollee"s location and provides court-admissible evidence of where the enrollee travelled before, during and after the crime in question.

GPS technology isn t just for enrollees considered high risk

February 26th, 2013

GPS monitoring equipment is a viable supervision tool for enrollees with any risk level, which is demonstrated in a recent incident involving a juvenile in Marion County, Indiana. Even though the juvenile suspected of participating in a two-county crime spree was on electronic monitoring, it was RF technology. It is designed to report only when an enrollee is home and when he/she leaves. Marion County has four GPS monitoring devices that are reserved for juveniles classified as high risk.

So, here"s a juvenile not classified as high risk, yet he"s a suspect in fives crimes committed in two counties. Based on his curfew schedule, he left home on time in the morning. This didn t generate any kind of notification because he was complying with his supervision requirements. However, what the juvenile"s probation officer didn t know until much later was the juvenile never arrived at a school and became a suspect in several crimes.

Generally when enrollees are placed on RF monitoring, the supervising agent must drive around the jurisdiction at various times of the day and night with a mobile monitoring unit to confirm the enrollee is at the location he"s required to be at that time, such as school, work or home.

As the news story points out, staffing shortages hamper the Marion County Juvenile Probation Department"s ability to keep tabs on juveniles 24 hours a day. Additionally, the story points out some juveniles think nothing will happen if they violate their supervision requirements because they re not monitored all day every day.

BLUtag GPS Monitoring Device

GPS monitoring devices track the movements of subjects on a 24/7 basis and can help keep enrollees stay compliant with their supervision requirements. If they aren t compliant, these devices immediately notify supervising agents through email or text message.

In addition to tracking an enrollee’s movements, GPS technology allows an agency to identify specific areas where the enrollee must be, such as school or work, and places he must avoid, such as parks or shopping malls, during certain hours of the day.

Understandably, supervising agencies need cost-effective ways to increase the accountability of enrollees. The around-the-clock tracking capability of GPS devices provides a way for agencies to use its resources wisely and maintain community safety.

GPS technology is extremely effective when agencies respond appropriately

March 4th, 2013

A recent story published in the L.A. Times newspaper highlights the increase in the number of arrest warrants issued since October 2011 due to parolees removing their GPS monitoring device. The story states it"s easy for a parolee to cut off the device, but doing so triggers a notification to the supervising agent.

I feel the need to address this situation and provide more background on the straps used on GPS monitoring devices. I"ll start with our BLUtag device.


BLUtag and its strap

BLUtag, the most advanced, proven and reliable GPS monitoring device in the industry, is used throughout the state of California by many government agencies. It has monitored, tracked and reported the movements and violations of more sex offenders, gang members, high-profile offenders and repeat offenders than any other GPS device in the industry. Using this device allows these agencies to take immediate action when enrollees violate the terms of their supervision, including removing the device.

Supervising agents usually take immediate action when they receive a tamper notification. However, ambiguity in California laws regarding offender custody has impacted the ability of agencies to maintain the appropriate consequence for various types of violations.

No technology available today can prevent parolees, or any offender, from removing their monitoring device (GPS or RF) or committing other violations. The important functionality is for the device to immediately notify supervising agents to the violation so the required action can be taken.

BLUtag"s hypoallergenic, thermoplastic rubber strap securely keeps the device fastened around the enrollee"s ankle at all times. If an enrollee removes BLUtag, the device immediately reports the tamper event, so the assigned supervising agent can take the action required by the agency and the law.


One manufacturer makes a strap for a GPS monitoring device marketed as more secure, which means it"s embedded with stainless steel cables or a strip of steel. Yes, the offender can t remove the device with standard medical scissors, but neither can medical personnel for medical emergencies or law enforcement officers when booking offenders into jail for a violation.

Removing this device requires tools, which aren t usually immediately available in emergency situations. If the offender experiences a medical emergency and loses a foot or part of the leg simply because medical personnel couldn t quickly remove the monitoring device, the agency is at risk for a lawsuit.

Additionally, the more secure strap has been known to be removed where it inserts into the device or it breaks off at the same point. This certainly creates a question about its level of security. This type of strap doesn t comply with the proposed National Institutes of Justice standards for Offender Tracking Systems.

Many solicitations specifically state the strap can t be embedded with steel cables or straps. The industry (supervising agencies and vendors/manufacturers) recognizes the critical need for a strap that securely fastens the monitoring device around the offender"s ankle. But the strap can t impair the ability of either medical or law enforcement personnel from removing it, especially in an emergency situation.

And I question whatever additional security it may provide. An offender can still remove the device with a steel-embedded strap and it doesn t matter to the offender if removing the device takes a few more seconds or a few more minutes. STOP has looked at adding a strap with embedded steel to our options, but ensuring that our device works as designed outweighs this option.

Current situation

The result of the situation described in the L.A. Times news story is appropriate consequences can t be applied to the deserving offenders due to a lack of clear law. GPS is a tool, and an extremely effective one when properly utilized. The article has more to do with need to change the law in order to have proper consequences for parolees violating the terms of their supervision.

The government agencies using our device are successful with other options for handling the removal of a device and maintaining public safety as well.

Equipment testing is important why?

April 3rd, 2013

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times prompted me to think about how agencies test (or don t test) equipment prior to contract execution.

The article chronicled the extensive testing an agency conducted on a recent procurement. Without the testing that was undertaken, the agency may have chosen the wrong device to meet its needs.

During a procurement process, it"s best to tailor your equipment testing and evaluations to match the ways in which the devices will actually be used. While national standards are being drafted today, they fail to meet the specific and individual needs of most agencies. The standards apply uniform criteria for hardware and software performance to all agencies and their target population(s). You can use these standards as a guide, but ideally you’ll create procurement specifications that will lead to the device best meeting your agency’s needs.

A few ways you might customize testing/evaluation:

What are the target population demographics? Research shows juveniles wait the longest to recharge their device, and often do not follow a charging schedule. A long battery life and long notification period to correct the situation are necessary for this population. When supervising high risk offenders GPS collection rate and download rates may be important.

Does your area have any unique geographic features? Receiving GPS signals may be affected by geographical features. When you test the devices, see how the unique aspects of your community, such as mountains, skyscrapers or parking garages, affect the device"s functionality. Does the vendor have options to assist with these situations?

How is the cell phone coverage in your area? The level of cell phone coverage in your area could impact a device"s performance. If this is a concern, test each device with this in mind. If you have limited cell phone coverage, an option such as our BLUhome unit merits consideration. What provider has the best cell phone coverage?

The factors to consider when designing your testing are varied and affected by numerous considerations. However, the long-term benefits of using an effective testing program in conjunction with cost considerations and written proposals to select a provider are worth the effort.

Georgia changed sentencing options

April 5th, 2013

After reading the nationwide sentencing revisions documented in a recent here conducted by The Sentencing Project, I want to highlight the changes made in the state of Georgia last year.

In 2012, legislators sought to reduce recidivism and voted to allow Georgia courts to consider electronically monitored probation as a sanction. This sanction is an alternative to prison for eligible candidates. By allowing the use of GPS monitoring the state provides a useful option for supervising offenders in the communities.

The Sentencing Project study reports on criminal justice revisions taking place in many states over the last two years. While the reforms took on various forms, the goal for all of them was to reduce prison populations while maintaining public safety.

Among the reforms touched on in the study:

  • Reduced mandatory minimums – Several states revised the required penalties for certain offenses.
  • Parole and Probation revocation reforms – Several states expanded the use of earned time for eligible individuals.
  • Juvenile Life Without Parole – Three states authorized relief for some individuals sentenced to life without parole as juveniles.

Substantial research has shown long prison sentences do little to reduce crime and recidivism. So, any effort to reduce the length of sentences is a promising step.

Despite the benefits, a shortened time in prison or jail doesn t mean releasing parolees and probationers into the community without appropriate supervision and access to needed resources. GPS and RF monitoring equipment and services provide supervising agencies and their staff members additional tools to effectively help their caseloads remain compliant with the terms of their supervision.

Evidence shows GPS monitoring technology is a reliable tool

May 16th, 2013

Previously in this space, I focused on the legislative changes which will bring more GPS monitoring to the state of Georgia. Those changes were documented as part of a study on national corrections reform completed in 2011 and 2012 by The Sentencing Project.

The discussion of increased GPS monitoring in Wisconsin has brought to light some questions about the reliability of GPS as a tool for monitoring offenders. I would like to address those questions.

Legislators in Madison are discussing a new budget which would provide funds for the electronic monitoring of all individuals under a restraining order due to incidents of domestic violence. Wisconsin currently uses GPS technology on some, but not all, domestic violence offenders. However, the new budget would greatly increase their reliance on it.

The GPS discussion in Wisconsin has included evidence the technology has failed. The ability of GPS to consistently deliver accurate information in a timely manner has been questioned. Further, false alerts from GPS monitoring equipment have been blamed for unnecessarily sending individuals back to jail, even though they had not done anything wrong.

It is difficult to hear about these shortcomings, as they undoubtedly put a community"s safety and numerous individuals" rights at risk. Yet, there is still plenty of evidence to support the over-all effectiveness of GPS monitoring as a tool for law enforcement officials in various jurisdictions.

For example, a study completed in California in 2012 found GPS monitoring in that state led to a greater level of compliance from those under supervision. In addition, the study found less recidivism amongst individuals being monitored by GPS when compared to those being supervised in more traditional ways.

This study also pointed out several positives of GPS monitoring. First it gives flexibility by providing a viable alternative to incarceration. Further, the information provided to agencies by GPS technology is invaluable. This real-time data assists agents in controlling offenders under supervision. In addition, the GPS monitoring information is often admissible in court in the event an offender commits a crime.

Another study completed in Florida in 2010 found electronic monitoring meets the goals of the agencies using it in that state. This report indicated the risk of an offender failing was reduced by 31 percent when he was electronically monitored. This benefit was seen among offenders of all age groups.

GPS monitoring technology is currently getting some negative attention in Wisconsin. However, published reports show it is still an effective and reliable tool to use in the monitoring of offenders. As evidenced by many government agencies, the quality of the device is vital to the success of the program. Since STOP has the most proven one-piece device available, we are always ready to show agencies what a difference we provide.

Michigan House approve GPS for pretrial defendants

May 16th, 2013

Michigan"s House of Representatives recently passed HB 4197 making it possible for the state to use GPS monitoring technology on a new group of defendants. The legislation passed in Lansing would allow judges to consider electronic monitoring for all individuals awaiting trial for an assault charge. Currently, the only option in such cases is keeping defendants in jail until their trial date. The state currently allows electronic monitoring for those awaiting trial for domestic violence charges.

This piece of legislation is ready for a third reading by the Senate and must be signed by the Governor before it can go into effect. In addition, Michigan"s leaders need to develop precise guidelines to determine who is eligible for GPS monitoring instead of incarceration. If the bill can overcome these obstacles, it will provide a useful tool that will benefit the state"s justice system.

If made available, GPS monitoring would make it possible for an individual awaiting trial to continue his/her life while waiting for his/her case to go to trial. In some cases, this technology makes the difference between a defendant continue working and providing for the family and losing his/her job because he/she is held in jail. The real-time supervision made possible by GPS monitoring helps maintain a high level of community safety while keeping the defendant accountable for his/her movements.

There are many aspects to successfully maintaining community safety. Providing security while preserving the rights of all individuals is a challenging task. It is a task that requires agencies to use every possible tool. GPS monitoring technology is an effective tool that can assist agencies with meeting many of their responsibilities, which includes public safety and offender accountability.

Justice Reinvestment improve recidivism and reduce corrections costs

May 29th, 2013

The ever-increasing prison costs and decreasing revenues have been forcing many states to consider more effective ways to manage corrections for several years. It"s a challenging task to balance budget concerns with public safety priorities. However, a recent report from the Justice Center highlights the effective attempts at Justice Reinvestment undertaken by several states.

The examples of justice reinvestment included in the report encompass numerous aspects of the states justice systems. While these examples don t necessarily include GPS monitoring, it"s encouraging to see states make the corrections process more efficient.

The study highlights six factors of an effective judicial reinvestment initiative.

  1. Comprehensive Data Analysis: In one cited example, Kansas examined more than 1 million pieces of data in its attempt to improve its system.
  2. Get Many Constituencies Involved: Kentucky included numerous county officials in its decision making process because state-level decisions would greatly affect county level workers.
  3. Focus on Those Most Likely to Re-offend: With limited resources, states like Ohio and North Carolina chose to focus on those individuals who were the highest risk to re-offend and return to prison.
  4. Reinvest in High Performing Programs: Relying on improved research techniques, states have been able to focus time and funds on programs found to be the most effective.
  5. Strengthen Community Supervision: Often justice reinvestment leads to more individuals on parole and probation, which means the ability to effectively supervise individuals in the community needs to increase proportionately as well.
  6. Incentivize Performance: Some states are taking the approach to reward local entities who reduced prison costs and populations with the dollar savings the local entities achieved.

As justice reinvestment continues across the country, I"m confident the GPS monitoring services offered by STOP will merit consideration as part of the overall solutions states take to improve their corrections systems.

CA Senate passes bill to increase penalty for tampering with GPS devices

June 19th, 2013

Recently the California Senate passed a bill to increase the penalty for sex offenders removing or disabling the GPS tracking device they are required to wear as part of their parole. The bill, introduced by Sen. Ted Lieu, has moved on to the State Assembly for its approval.

SB 57 establishes a tiered punishment system for parolees who tamper with their GPS device. A first offense under the proposed legislation results in 180 days in county jail, while a third offense may result in as much as three years in state prison.

On Lieu’s web site, he cites the benefits of keeping sexual offenders on GPS monitoring. Most notably, he references a federal study that found monitoring reduces recidivism amongst sexual offenders by three times.

In light of the benefits, it"s prudent for the state of California to take steps to improve the effectiveness of its GPS monitoring program. California"s actions have the potential to maintain public safety and help the state continue minimizing the size of its prison population.

As a provider of GPS tracking devices, Satellite Tracking of People strives to make its equipment as difficult as possible to remove. However, the help enrollees remain safe in the event of an emergency situation, the device must be easily removed. Not allowing for this is irresponsible and potentially hazardous to the enrollee and others. But if the enrollee tampers with the device, STOP"s equipment immediately alerts authorities so appropriate steps can be taken to address the issue. This legislation further strengthens a successful program and will make enrollees think twice about unlawfully removing their tracking device.

Establishing solid policy and procedures: first step to an effective monitoring program

June 28th, 2013

While public perception may be correctional agencies can provide needed offender supervision simply by putting GPS or RF monitoring devices on these individuals, but the reality is much more complex. Even the best devices are simply tools. Agencies use these tools in a strategic manner to help carry out its mission and achieve its goals, which include offender accountability and public safety.

In the next couple of posts, I"ll discuss two of the most important ingredients to help an agency to operate an efficient EM monitoring program: policy and procedures and training.

Like any other tool, a GPS or RF monitoring system must be used within the framework of well-designed policies and procedures to guide the daily use of it. Critical questions, such as how supervising agents are to respond to each type of event, needs to be addressed in detail long before the system is activated. As each agency is unique, each agency"s protocols will reflect its mission and goals, however, some general guidelines should be kept in mind.

Use best practices: No need to reinvent the wheel. Data exists to provide guidance on what types of procedures work most effectively. This data can be used to establish solid starting points for creating protocols. Agencies can share effective practices with each other and discuss how they worked through various events. APPA, NIJ, ICCA and ACA are good resources to consider. And if agencies are looking at best practices, evidence-based practices should be introduced wherever possible so data can guide the program as well.

One size doesn t fit all: Each agency knows its own jurisdiction, population(s), mission and goals best. After using available data, reports and evidence-based practices to develop and/or updating basic policies and procedures, they need some level of customization to meet the agency"s needs. Gathering input and feedback from a broad collection of stakeholders is beneficial.

Keep it effective, but not cumbersome: An effective policy that is not burdensome to those who must follow it is a difficult but achievable goal. Agencies need to implement effective policies and procedures that include the use of and access to appropriate tools, such as RF or GPS monitoring devices, without being onerous to the agents carrying out the policies.

Once solid policies and detailed procedures are in place, training is the next step, which I"ll discuss in my next post.

With your plan in place, train your team to carry it out

July 22nd, 2013

In my previous post, I talked about the importance for a GPS monitoring program to have effective policies and procedures in place before implementing the program. I discussed the need to use best practices, customize each program for a specific situation and keep the system as user friendly as possible.

Once these policies and procedures are established, it"s equally important to invest the necessary resources into training the supervising agents using the GPS monitoring system on a daily basis. Even the best GPS system is a tool and supervising agents using it need to know exactly how it works to consistently achieve an agency"s goals, including offender accountability and public safety.

With this mind, here are four keys to an effective training program:

Scheduling: Don t scrimp on the amount of time needed for sufficient training even if training does not involve new technology. We ve experienced situations where the program managers want all of the training to take place in a much-condensed timeframe. This means the trainees receive a high level training at best and can t really delve into deeper applications of the GPS monitoring system and how it can help your team in its daily work. It also means the team likely won t have time to discuss the rationale behind various policies and procedures.

Curriculum: While every vendor has a basic curriculum to teach supervising agents about its GPS monitoring system, it needs customization to reflect the policies and procedures of the agency to increase its effectiveness. Some agencies change policies and procedures in many small ways, especially when changing vendors for its GPS monitoring program. By combining training on the new system with changes in policies and procedures, your team can visualize how all the parts should work together.

Follow up training: Sometimes follow up training is needed if your team experiences difficulty with certain aspects of a new GPS monitoring system and/or policies and procedures. Follow up training can help smooth out these bumps. To recognize bumps, you and your vendor must work closely together during the first several weeks after initial training. Staying alert for trouble areas can be tracked through inquiries to the vendor"s technical support center and the types and number of event notifications supervising agents receive in their daily summary report.

Open learning environment: Encourage your team to keep asking questions when they arise during training sessions and afterwards. Cultivate an environment where colleagues look out for ways to help each other find solutions and feel they can access the vendor"s technical support center for additional help or explanation.

Effective training is a foundational element to the success of any program, whether it"s a GPS monitoring program, sales and marketing, accounts payable/receivable, etc. And effective training is a responsibility of both the vendor and you, the agency"s program manager. Working together to develop a curriculum reflecting the expectations of the agency"s leadership cannot happen without input from both parties. Working together, solid policies and procedures and a good training programs are key elements to a community supervision program that fulfills its goals and mission.

Major Changes in Federal Sentencing Policies

August 21st, 2013

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder"s speech to the American Bar Association last week called for "sweeping, systematic changes to the U.S. justice system, which are long overdue and very much welcomed. He outlined his new Smart On Crime plan for the Justice Department.

In speaking of his reforms, Holder said, We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation. In addition to the new Justice Department policies, Holder also pointed to bi-partisan supported legislation that would save the nation billions of dollars by taking a more strategic approach to incarceration. For example, $80 billion was spent on incarceration in the U.S. in 2010 and the U.S. continues to incarcerate the largest percentage of its population than any other country.

Holder also described the Justice Department"s proactive partnering with the U.S. Department of Education to address a school-to-pipeline system and zero-tolerance discipline policies. He said these policies should land a student at a police station facing charges for a minor offense.

The Smart on Crime plan also includes expanding the use of alternatives to incarceration, which I agree and support. As Holder explained, incarceration can be an effective tool with strategic use when coupled with other components to cultivate a successful justice system and a safe community.

Alternatives to incarceration have proven to be effective by numerous studies and implementations by state and local governments. While Holder"s plan does not necessarily include electronic monitoring in every jurisdiction just beginning the dialogue on a national level is a huge start in the change process. Hopefully, this start will trickle down to more jurisdictions and allow further alternatives and sentencing reform to take hold.

If you ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I ve addressed this topic before and shared the actions taken by individual states to improve their justice system by various means. So, it"s encouraging to see this emphasis on Justice Reinvestment is now taking hold at the federal level.

CA prison situation: more post-release services and supervision needed

September 23rd, 2013

A recent op-ed piece by Lois Davis in the Los Angeles Times addresses the need for the state of California to increase its focus on education and job training for inmates. I agree with Davis" assessment that the best way for the state to reduce its prison population is to dedicate more resources to the preparation of inmates before they return to the community.

In addition to Ms. Davis" recommendations, more services for parolees after they are released, including a GPS monitoring program, are advisable. Take a few minutes to read Ms. Davis" perspective on this important issue.

2013 Training Institute: Intensive training for agents

October 22nd, 2013

I ve written before about the importance of training for an agency"s employees who will implement and operate a GPS monitoring program. A GPS device, no matter its capabilities, is a tool and agents must know how to use it properly to achieve an agency"s goals.

At STOP, one of our priorities is providing our customers with a range of resources so agents gain a comprehensive knowledge about how our hardware and software function individually and collectively. One resource is our annual Training Institute, which took place in Atlanta earlier this month.

More than 70 agencies and independent service providers were represented with the 137 agents. The attendees received 10 hours of training on our enrollee monitoring system. Our customers chose to attend three of the four breakout sessions.

  • VeriTracks: The Next Generation — Customers learned about the next generation of VeriTracks and its functionality.

    Attendees gather around our BLU+ blow-up at the end of the breakout session on our newest enrollee monitoring device.

  • BLU+: The RF Alternative — This year we introduced BLU+ (blu-plus), which is a new RF monitoring device with location capability, which allows supervising agents to confirm enrollees entered a designed location on time without the use of a mobile monitoring unit.
  • Witness Testimony Preparation — Supervising agents frequently provide courtroom testimony for enrollee violations. This session highlighted the information needed to articulate the basics of GPS technology in a courtroom setting. The agenda included reviewing commonly asked cross examination questions.
  • Talking With Elected Officials So They Listen — Elected official are frequently part of an agency"s stakeholder audience. This session provided tools to help agency directors and leaders have productive discussions with elected officials, as well as possible sources for alternative funding.

Franklin County, Ohio, award

We also recognized a few customers as having an outstanding GPS enrollee monitoring program. The awardees for 2013 are Charlevoix County Probation and Family Court (Michigan), Superior Court Social Services Division (District of Columbia), Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department (Illinois), Franklin County Municipal Court (Ohio), Tehama County Probation Department (California) and Tehama County Sheriff’s Department (California). We congratulate these and all of our customers on their enrollee monitoring programs that help maintain high levels of enrollee accountability and community safety.

Our customers returned home with new skills and information that will help them use our enrollee monitoring system more effectively so they can help keep their communities safe. For more information about the 2014 Training Institute, contact STOP at

Continue community improvements with 2nd Chance Reauthorization

November 27th, 2013

Update: In connection with the Second Chance Act, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance released a competitive grant announcement. The grant is for Smart Supervision Programs. Click here for the document.

Original post:

By reauthorizing the Second Chance Act (HB 3465 and S 1690), Congress can assure countless organizations throughout the country will continue to have the support needed to make profound and positive changes in their communities. The legislation currently under consideration would extend, for another five years, the support of various programs that reduce recidivism.

The Second Chance Act, originally signed into law in April 2008, enhances and improves communities by providing financial backing to agencies that support individuals returning from jails, prisons and juvenile facilities. This assistance takes many forms, such as mentoring and substance abuse and/or family counseling. During FY (fiscal year) 2013, the Second Chance Act invested more than $100 million in 62 projects across the U.S.

Below are few of the projects made possible by the Second Chance Act. These programs demonstrate the need and success that is achievable through this legislation. The funding available through the legislation allows agencies to creatively improve their communities through adaptation, flexibility and customization of projects to meet local community situations. There is also a need for additional funding, but that fight can live for another day.

Since its original passage, this bill and its funding has helped improve numerous communities throughout the nation. A five-year extension of this important act should be a priority of Congress. I urge you to get involved and contact your Representative and/or Senator today to urge action on this bill.

West Shorline 2nd Chance Connections (Ottawa County, Michigan)
This successful program includes a 13-week transitional employment initiative to prepare individuals for employment after incarceration. Participants start with a temporary subsidized position. They also receive special training in communication and problem solving to improve their chances of long-term employment success.

Co-occurring Program at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Lino Lakes (Minnesota)
This program focuses on two key issues among incarcerated individuals: substance abuse and mental illness. Participants benefit from integrated treatment as they return to communities throughout the state. Studies determined more than 10 percent of those in prison suffer from substance abuse and mental illness. In light of this statistic, this initiative"s components, which include mental health and substance abuse treatment along with pro-social skills development and employment and job readiness services, is essential.

Project Reconnect (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Women with children face special challenges when returning home from incarceration. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma serves the women of their community in this challenging transition. This project makes it possible for mothers to visit their children while still in prison. In addition, the work of the Girl Scouts provides parent classes for women as they near their release and supplementary education classes for the children.

Family Support for Treatment and Reentry Success Center for Family Success (Multnomah County, Oregon)
Treatment and family service providers in Oregon work with incarcerated individuals and their families to assure a smooth the return home from prison. One impressive feature of the initiative provides services to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals and their families repair relationships and reconnect with each other.