Archive for the ‘evidence-based practices’ Category

Additional research on reducing recidivism released

Monday, 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.

Paying it forward in 2015

Friday, 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.

Continue community improvements with 2nd Chance Reauthorization

Wednesday, 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.

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

Monday, 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.

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

Monday, 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.

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

Friday, 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.

Justice Reinvestment improve recidivism and reduce corrections costs

Wednesday, 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.

Finally, a new outcomes study released

Friday, 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 https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/238481.pdf.

2011 Training Institute Space City Success

Friday, 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.

Evidence Based Practice and VeriTracks Tools to support your success!

Thursday, 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!