Posts Tagged ‘Tracking Sucess’

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.

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.

2013 Training Institute: Intensive training for agents

Tuesday, 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 info@stopllc.com.

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.

Handling inquiries from news reporters and others

Tuesday, 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.

BLU That means something?

Thursday, 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

Supervision technology needed tools for enrollee accountability and public safety

Thursday, 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.

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

Monday, 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.

Training Institute: Successful Communication and Commaraderie

Thursday, 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.