Developing Technologies Provide New Options for Community Corrections

The world is in the thick of a developing technological revolution. Constant innovations drive emerging trends which are reshaping everything. In part, this is due to electronics principles like Moore’s Law which calls for progressively smaller and more powerful processors to be built over time. More specifically, Moore’s Law says that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years, meaning technology is getting smaller, smarter, and faster.

In the community corrections industry, supervising agencies typically use traditional, ankle-worn, electronic monitoring devices to manage community-based individuals on probation or parole. As technology advances, agencies now have access to low-profile, wrist-worn devices and smartphone apps to connect more closely with supervising officers and the critical community resources individuals need to be successful.

As the Market Grows, So Do Technical Innovations

In fact, the wearable market is growing extraordinarily fast across all industries. As a result, the performance gap between medical- and nonmedical-grade wearables is closing, driving growth in multiple wearable device categories.

Forecasts predict that smartwatch dominance will continue to grow going forward. Wrist-worn devices are typically more feature-rich, combining core tracking functionality with more robust connectivity and phone-related features. It’s no surprise that smartwatches make up more than 60% of the wearables market.

In addition, advances in miniaturization are driving the wearables market. Gartner predicts that by 2024, miniaturizing capabilities will advance to the point that 10% of all wearable technologies will become unobtrusive to the user.

This Top AI Technology Is Being Adopted Worldwide

The next technology driving change is biometric facial technology, which is arguably one of the most powerful identification tools ever made.

The terms adaptive facial recognition and biometric facial comparison are often used interchangeably, yet there are key differences between the two methods. Biometric facial comparison confirms identity using a one-to-one matching system, while adaptive facial recognition uses a one-to-many matching system, comparing a real-time photo against large, third-party databases of stored records.

How Community Corrections Can Access These Technologies

For those sanctioned to community corrections, technology has evolved, and the newer products are not as noticeable, physically restrictive, or cumbersome. These advancements enable individuals to move and work in the community more discreetly as they fulfill their release conditions. Agencies are always looking for effective alternatives to detention, so providers are designing more modern supervision tools using emerging technologies that are already available in the commercial wearable markets.

The Latest in BI Continuum of Electronic Monitoring Technologies & Services

BI is building on its 40+ years of experience helping agencies stay ahead of the curve by incorporating the two key technologies mentioned above:

#1 – The continued miniaturization of electronic components

The latest device, BI VeriWatch, includes location sensors and cellular modems small enough to fit in a wrist-worn device. The sensor detects if the device is on or off a person. Features GPS and Wi-Fi to increase location accuracy and preserve battery life.

#2 – The advancement of biometric technology

Leveraging this technology eliminates the need for a strap tamper on this wrist-worn device. The device’s camera works in tandem with biometric facial comparison software to provide strong secondary biometric authentication of the person wearing the device. BI VeriWatch is the first community supervision location tracker to biometrically authenticate the identity of the wearer by comparing a new photo against photos established at enrollment.

Data Sharing as a Component of Community Supervision

What is Data Sharing?

Data sharing provides authorized individuals with a broader range of information that they would not have access to without the software. Data sharing allows for the contribution of data among partners and provides opportunities for collaboration. Similarly, data integration is a type of data sharing that merges data based on common data fields.

Data Sharing & Community Corrections

In 2008, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) pioneered an effort to create a system for information sharing between all federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. The data gathered includes incident and case reports, arrest reports, traffic citations, photos, booking and incarceration data, parole/probation information, and more.

As of 2013 only about 4,200, or 23%, of agencies were utilizing and contributing to the National Data Exchange (N-DEx). Today, more than 8,000 criminal justice agencies contribute to the N-DEx, which is still less than half. There are many factors that contribute to the slow adoption of this new technology, including cost and politics.

The FBI also manages and operates several other crime information systems. Among them is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which enables criminal justice agencies to enter or search for information regarding stolen property, missing or wanted persons, and to obtain criminal histories. The FBI criminal databases utilize biographic data, which includes but is not limited to fingerprints and facial recognition.

Private companies, such as ClearForce, have also recognized the importance of data sharing and have committed to providing push-based alerting data to assist with community supervision. ClearForce takes a biographical approach, comparing full name, address, and date of birth rather than biometric proponents such as fingerprints Tom Miller, CEO of ClearForce, states that this is the “most scalable, most economical, and least-intrusive capability that can be utilized for monitoring community safety.”

Another such company is Julota, who offers cloud-based data sharing solutions for law enforcement. According to their website, data sharing requires relationships of trust within and across organizations. Perhaps the new age of technology and data sharing will inspire increased collaboration between agencies to further refine community corrections.

How Data Sharing Can Make Public Safety Efforts More Efficient & Effective

Data sharing across agencies and different levels of jurisdiction is a critical component of community supervision. By granting probation and parole officers access to booking and arrest data, they are equipped with the tools necessary to take proactive action toward reducing recidivism. With an added layer of monitoring, officers can use the full picture to their advantage for effective resource allocation and supervision practices.

Probation and parole officers typically manage large caseloads, and it may be difficult to maintain consistent supervision at a high volume. A data sharing database enables officers to quickly search for relevant information regarding their clients when conducting investigations, risk assessments, and reports of non-compliance. Data sharing allows officers the ability to make connections between investigations based on information they would not have otherwise had access to, as well as locate clients under other jurisdictions if they have committed an offense in another state. The ability to subscribe to alerts also gives probation and parole officers an edge on monitoring large populations.

When officers adhere to evidence-based practices, probation and parole are an important part of helping individuals not recidivate post-incarceration. Though data sharing is not a new concept, its adoption to improve public safety and community corrections continues to grow. With full-scale participation of data sharing, officers will be better equipped to successfully monitor their caseloads and ensure their successful return to society.

Can Text Message Reminders Help Reduce Technical Violations?

Only about half of individuals who are on probation successfully complete their terms, and most unsuccessful probation completions are due to technical violations rather than committing new crimes. In 2020, there were 3.9 million people in the U.S. on probation or parole. This number accounted for 70% of the total correctional population that year. Failing to meet with supervisors is one of the most common technical violations. Individuals are missing their meetings with officers due to work, education, or failure to find transportation. Text message reminders for parole and probation meetings are an easy and inexpensive way to help people stay on track and reduce recidivism.

A November 2022 report, “Addressing Mass Supervision in the United States: How Text Message Reminders Can Help Reduce Technical Violations of Community Supervision”, suggests that sending text message reminders for scheduled appointments could reduce canceled and missed parole and probation appointments by as much as 21% and 29%, respectively.

The report includes results from a 2018 experiment conducted by the Arkansas Department of Corrections, comparing four groups including a control group, an early text group (two days before), a late text group (one day before), and a group that received both the early and late text. Highlights of the experiment include:

  • Individuals who received a late text or received two texts were more likely to successfully attend meetings than individuals who did not receive any text message reminders.
  • Individuals who received late texts were significantly less likely to cancel their appointments.
  • The optimal time to send text message reminders is one day prior to the scheduled appointment.
  • During the six-month period following the experiment, all individuals received text messages one day before their appointments, resulting in 30% fewer missed appointments.

Electronic Monitoring Solutions for Community Supervision

Increase positive outcomes by placing the tools individuals need to be successful and accountable in the palm of their hands. BI Incorporated is proud to be at the forefront of adjusting the way electronic monitoring services are provided. Mobile communication is immediate, convenient, and timesaving for both officers and clients. BI SmartLINK® simplifies communication between clients and officers through easy-to-use two-way communication technology such as messaging and video conference, calendar and resource access, and push notifications. Officers can schedule notifications to remind them about upcoming appointments or court appearances. Plus, virtual check-ins can help eliminate the challenge of finding a ride for an office visit. Learn more

Made in America Matters

BI Incorporated is the largest manufacturer of electronic monitoring systems and has provided innovative technology solutions from Boulder, Colorado, since 1978. We work closely with community corrections agencies monitoring individuals on parole, probation, or pretrial release to help reduce recidivism, enhance public safety, and strengthen the communities we serve.

BI is proud to employ over 1,200 highly trained professionals in the U.S. including manufacturing technicians, call center personnel, engineers, software developers, and more. BI also supports several communities through our local supplier partnerships. All material suppliers are U.S.-based and managed locally, with a focus on small, minority, and disadvantaged enterprises. These local partnerships create employment opportunities for several thousand U.S. workers.

Our in-house manufacturing staff benefit from training programs to maintain and advance their skills. These programs adhere to rigorous Institute for Printed Circuits (IPC) standards that enhance our personnel value and craftsmanship. There are only 3,600 certified IPC trainers globally, and BI is pleased to have one as a full-time asset to our team. BI believes in investing in the future of America’s workforce and hosts an annual technology training program for middle and high school students.

Customer service is a top priority. BI has two internal call centers located in the Midwest to provide 24/7 nationwide coverage and support to meet our public sector partners’ needs. Operating our own call centers gives us an edge in delivering the industry’s highest level of customer service while employing hundreds here in the U.S. Plus, our Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) status allows us to directly troubleshoot and replace equipment without sending anything overseas, making our customer service even more efficient and customer friendly.

When you buy American-made, you are not only supporting American workers, but you are also supporting ethical working conditions, workers’ rights, child labor laws, and environmental regulations. U.S. production standards are in place intentionally to protect both workers and consumers. Domestic manufacturers must follow stricter guidelines pertaining to quality control and labor laws. Additionally, shipping products from overseas produces a tremendous amount of fossil fuel emission and pollution. By purchasing American-made goods, you play a part in supporting the economy, environment, and human rights.

Is GPS an Effective Tool in Helping Reduce Recidivism?

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government use electronic devices to monitor the movements and activities of pretrial defendants or individuals on probation or parole.

The current technology of choice is Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

A detailed report by The PEW Charitable Trusts released in 2015 reported that, “a sharp increase in the use of GPS technology accounted for all of the 10-year growth in electronic tracking.”

These findings are consistent with published studies that suggest, Radio Frequency (RF) devices are giving way to more advanced technology that can track participants in real-time.

In addition, the National Criminal Justice Technology Research, Test, and Evaluation Center at Johns Hopkins reported, that while the number of GPS monitors in use has grown rapidly, the percentage of monitored individuals on both GPS and RF has remained relatively consistent since 1990, estimated at around 4% of the population on community supervision as of 2013.

Accuracy of GPS Technology

GPS satellites broadcast signals in space with a certain accuracy, but reception depends on additional factors including satellite geometry, signal blockage, atmospheric conditions, and receiver design features/quality.

GPS-enabled smartphones are typically accurate within a 4.9 m (16 ft.) radius in ideal conditions.

Real-time positioning can be achieved within a few centimeters, and long-term measurements at the millimeter level with dual-frequency receivers and/or augmentation systems.

With GPS III, the next generation of GPS satellites being designed and built by Lockheed Martin, signals will be three times more accurate than the current generation.

Defining Recidivism

According to the National Institute of Justice, recidivism refers to an individual’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the individual receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. Recidivism is measured by acts that result in rearrest, reconviction, or return to prison either with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following release.

Four Studies that Support GPS in Reducing Recidivism Rates

First, a 2018 study by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology found:

  • Individuals on electronic monitoring supervision were far less likely to have a Failure to Appear violation (8.17% vs. 22.59%) than those who were not electronically monitored.

The second study from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs and National Institute of Justice showed that electronic monitoring:

  • Reduces an individual’s risk of failure by 31%.
  • Specifically, GPS typically has more of an effect on reducing failure to comply than RF systems.
  • Had less of an impact on individuals involved in a violent crime than on sex, property, drug-involved individuals. However, the effect remains statistically significant.

The third from the U.S. Federal Court System reports:

  • 99% of pretrial defendants on federal location monitoring remain free of any arrest for a violent offense during supervision.
  • 86% of individuals placed on location monitoring at the time of sentencing remained free of any new arrest, during their term of supervision.
  • 97% of individuals placed on location monitoring at the time of sentencing remain free of any arrest for a violent offense, during their term of supervision.

Finally, the American Correctional Association study concluded:

  • GPS monitoring was more effective than traditional parole in reducing recidivism and was also more cost-effective. Parolees in the traditional group — those not placed on GPS monitoring — committed new crimes and had their parole revoked more often than individuals in the GPS group. The traditional group’s recidivism rate was 38% higher than that of the GPS group.

According to these studies, GPS monitoring provides an effective and efficient solution to reduce recidivism, which in turn could help alleviate the burden of overcrowding and reduce facility costs.

BI Incorporated Renews OMNIA Partners Agreement, Allowing Governmental Agencies to Access Electronic Monitoring Products and Services at Best Value

BOULDER, Colo. BI Incorporated, the U.S. leader for electronic monitoring products and services, has entered an exclusive agreement with OMNIA Partners Public Sector that allows city, county, and state governmental agencies nationwide to contract with BI for its community corrections supervision technologies at competitive prices. Plus, participating agencies save valuable time and effort by skipping the lengthy Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

This exclusive contract was awarded through a competitive solicitation process conducted by the lead public agency, City of Mesa, Ariz., effective May 4, 2022. BI has worked with the City of Mesa previously, supporting the municipal court’s electronic monitoring program with technology and services that create an additional release option for the court.

“Community corrections agencies seek solutions that help them monitor for compliance to conditions of release in the community, and BI offers the breadth of products and services coupled with our extensive experience to make this happen,” said Jock Waldo, Executive Vice President, BI Incorporated. “Agencies that access this cooperative master agreement streamline their procurement process and tap into a wide range of electronic monitoring products and services at best-value pricing.”

BI originally entered this cooperative agreement in 2014, and the number of governmental agencies accessing value pricing through the master agreement has grown significantly to more than 100 governmental agencies.

In addition, BI has responded to changes in community corrections and technology to offer a full continuum of required products and services available under the new agreement. Agencies can access technology products and service options, including GPS tracking, radio frequency (RF) curfew monitoring, alcohol detection, and voice verification systems; call center and monitoring operations services; and software, including smartphone applications.

About BI Incorporated
Established in 1978, BI Incorporated is a wholly owned subsidiary of The GEO Group, Inc. BI offers more than a dozen electronic monitoring systems, including GPS tracking, alcohol detection, and radio frequency monitoring systems to monitor schedules, curfews, and behavior of probationers, parolees, and pretrial defendants in the community. The company has Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) status and manufactures its products at U.S. facilities, employs more than 1,000 highly trained professionals, and produces more than 200,000 electronic monitoring devices annually. For more information, visit www.bi.com.

About OMNIA Partners
OMNIA Partners, Public Sector is the nation’s largest and most experienced cooperative purchasing organization dedicated to public sector procurement. Our immense purchasing power and industry-leading suppliers have produced a comprehensive portfolio of cooperative contracts and partnerships, making OMNIA Partners the most valued and trusted resource for organizations nationwide.

For more information, visit www.OMNIAPartners.com/publicsector

Considering a GPS Tracking Program for Your Agency? Tips for Getting Started

For two decades, community corrections agencies have sought to transition individuals to community supervision – on probation, parole, pretrial release or work release – to lessen pressure on jails and prisons, reduce costs, and allow individuals at lower risk to continue to work and live in the community while they are involved in the criminal justice system. Technology has played an important assistive role in allowing this trend to continue.

Often, agencies consider GPS tracking systems as the most advanced technological option among electronic supervision options. BI Incorporated has helped agencies set up GPS tracking programs for decades, and a recently updated white paper, Implementing a GPS Tracking Program for Community-based Supervision: What You Need to Know,” was born from the experiences of BI experts and community corrections agency professionals nationwide. The white paper details several of the key questions when considering a GPS program, beginning with establishing your goals first.

What are the Goals for the GPS Monitoring Program?

When considering a GPS monitoring program, community corrections agencies should define why it is being implemented and have clear long-term goals for the program. Some reasons to implement a GPS program include:

  • Reduce incarceration costs
  • Reduce recidivism
  • Behavior modification through accountability
  • Monitoring compliance with court conditions of release
  • Gradual reduction in restrictions with demonstrated compliance

Nuts and Bolts of a GPS Tracking Program

After establishing goals for your agency, and ensuring you have the buy-in of the key stakeholders supporting your agencies, it’s important to research your vendor options, geographical situation, budget and much more. The white paper covers these topics and more:

Person to be monitored:

When will the GPS tracking system be used in the judicial process—the pretrial or post-conviction phase? Will GPS monitoring be used long-term for those individuals released on probation or parole?

Check partner experience:

Before implementing a GPS monitoring program, a community corrections agency should understand there are no minimum standards of performance established for GPS tracking or for technical support. Check references, track records and dig into how your team will be training and supported over time.

Consider how it will affect your agency:

Implementing a GPS monitoring program might require making changes to the structure of the agency and require new protocols and procedures be created to implement the program. You may want to handle the day to day of running a program internally or outsource the bulk of the work. Explore your options to find a fit that matches your agency’s needs and don’t forget there are many choices when it comes to GPS equipment, so considering your geographic situation is very important.

Budget considerations:

Every agency has unique budget constraints, so carefully run the numbers to see what a GPS tracking program costs in relationship to your sought-after goals. It’s important to consider not just start up costs, but how a program will affect your budget over the long term.

Established more than 40 years ago to support community corrections agencies, BI Incorporated is a partner for agencies and available to help agencies explore if a GPS tracking program is right for their situation. To read or download the white paper, click here.

Did You Know Continuous Transdermal Alcohol Detection Is a More Effective Monitoring Method?

Benefits of Continuous Transdermal Alcohol Detection

Mobile technology has enhanced productivity worldwide, allowing people to get more done at faster rates. The increase in productivity has influenced a new era of innovation in wearable technology. Notable consumer “wearables” include fitness trackers, smart watches and wristbands, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) hearing aids. Biosensors are utilized to monitor patient health, rapidly assist with disease diagnosis, help predict and often improve patient outcomes, and much more.1

How Do Biosensors Work?

A biosensor is a set of biological components that are connected to a transducer to convert and measure physiological signals, such as enzymes, heart rate, alcohol consumption, proteins, antibody, electrical impedance, oxygen level, core temperature, etc.2 While relatively new to the consumer market, biosensor technology was first introduced to the corrections industry in the early 2000s as a means to detect alcohol consumption in individuals on community supervision.

In 2009, BI introduced the first continuous transdermal alcohol detection device that measures alcohol every five minutes. Today, agencies use Electronic Monitoring (EM) devices to measure alcohol in two ways, through breath or continuous transdermal detection devices. The latter measures and detects transdermal alcohol concentration (TAC) through a noninvasive alcohol sensor worn on an individual’s ankle.

Continuous Transdermal Alcohol Detection Benefits

Continuous transdermal detection is a more effective method of monitoring drinking than many of the other techniques and technologies (e.g., self-report, patches, or urinalysis).3 These devices create opportunities for agencies, officers, courts, and treatment professionals to measure compliance, offer positive reinforcement, and potentially rehabilitate clients.

Key benefits include:

  • Increases accountability
  • Provides accurate and reliable data
  • Eliminates testing gaps
  • Court admissible
  • Reduces the need for in-person testing
  • 24/7 monitoring


Learn more about BI TAD®.


1https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/21/16/5589/htm
2https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/am/pii/S2352648318300011
3https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34672885/

The Evolution of Cellular Networks & What It Could Mean for Your Agency

In just 10 years, smartphone usage has climbed almost 700% with no expectation of slowing down.1 In order to support the growing bandwidth, cellular providers work on a next-generation operating model with more frequent releases. We hear a lot about “5th generation (5G)” and “Long-term Evolution (LTE)” technology, but the typical consumer may not understand what these terms mean.

As more community corrections agencies leverage technology to enhance community supervision, we want to help you understand the impact and future implications. Each generation of wireless technology has the potential to reduce cost, increase device longevity, and provide more reliable supervision techniques for agencies.

The primary goal of next generation networks is to support more users and faster data transfers. To understand where cellular network technology is headed, it’s helpful to look back on the different cellular generations.

The History of Wireless Networks

1st Generation (1G)

The first generation was introduced in the late 1970s and ran on an analog system. Motorola, Inc. produced the first commercially available cellphone in 1983, named DynaTAC. The device ran on 1G with limited coverage, poor sound quality, and zero security. While revolutionary at the time, providers quickly recognized the need for a more reliable and secure communication channel.

2nd Generation (2G)

2G launched in the early ‘90s through one of two communication technologies to handle the demand for mobile broadband. This generation transferred data from one device to another with text messages and multimedia content, changing the way we communicate.

The Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks provided many fundamental features still in use today, including Short Message Service (SMS), internal roaming, conference calls, call holding, and billing based on long-distance calls.2 The main distinction between the two networks is GSM transmitted data and voice simultaneously, while CDMA did not. As a result, approximately 95% of the world’s devices operated under GSM.3

3rd Generation (3G)

As the world became more digital, 3G was introduced in 2001 to facilitate greater voice and data capacity, support a wider range of applications, and increase data transmission at a lower cost. During the 3G era, smartphone technology emerged giving us the ability to stream data, surf the internet, listen to music, conduct video conferences, and send emails. By this stage, CDMA technology had progressed and became equivalent to GSM. While 3G mobile devices operated on GSM and CDMA, the emergence of LTE technology would soon make these networks obsolete.

4th Generation (4G)

In 2010, the focus was on 4G and the implementation of Long-term Evolution (LTE) technology-enabled devices. 4G was a major milestone for wireless technology as it enhanced mobile applications, high-definition TV, video conferencing, cloud-computing, and gaming. 4G’s backward compatibility created some panic in the technology industry as devices on GSM and CDMA networks will be inoperable at the end of 2022.

What’s Next for Wireless Technology?

5th Generation (5G)

While you have probably heard about 5G technology, it is still under development. The future of 5G will support wireless Virtual Reality (VR) gaming, remote control robots, and driverless vehicles. The new generation promises even faster data rates, higher connection density, and lower latency, but it will take some time before we see the tangible benefits of 5G.

Implications for Community Corrections

The progressive transformation has both benefits and disadvantages. Wireless network improvements give electronic monitoring (EM) devices the opportunity to hold and transfer more data at faster speeds, making them more agile and reliable. However, devices running on the previous generation, GSM and CDMA wireless systems, are scheduled to become inoperable by the end of 2022.

When choosing an EM provider, agencies need cost-effective solutions that meet their current and future needs. BI considers these needs on a daily basis and has worked diligently to integrate LTE technology into our present and future products, including GPS, alcohol, RF, and mobile solutions. According to Joe Newell, Senior Director of BI Labs and Wireless Strategy, “One of the core missions of our research is to continually evaluate each new generation of wireless technology and understand how it can improve the products and services we offer. As a result, we’ve engineered BI LOC8® XT and BI HomeGuard® 20|20 to operate on both 4G and 5G networks, providing our public sector partners with the longevity on which they depend.”

1https://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/
2http://net-informations.com/q/diff/generations
3https://www.hindawi.com/journals/wcmc/2017/2315036/

National Correctional Officers Week

Since 1984, the first week of May has been recognized as National Correctional Officers Week, an opportunity to acknowledge the courage and dedication it takes to be a correctional professional. BI Incorporated celebrates our nation’s correctional professionals every day, and this Week serves as a special reminder for your service and sacrifice. We can’t thank you enough for all you do to enhance public safety in our communities. Please join us by extending your gratitude to these individuals for their service.