The technological revolution has increased productivity and efficiency in most industries, including community corrections. While GPS and radio frequency devices still dominate most community supervision programs today, electronic monitoring (EM) technology and services continue to evolve based on societal needs.
As discussed in our Technology Trends Series, new ways to deliver products and services are driven by an increased adoption of cloud-based services, analytics, wearables, and smartphone-based solutions. Software solutions that help officers better manage their caseload and modern data analytics tools that identify client behavioral patterns and possibly predict future violations are essential for enhanced community safety and recidivism reduction. Plus, wearable and smartphone technology that helps decrease the stigma around electronic monitoring aids in client compliance.
While these are clear examples of the evolution, the use of technology in community corrections is influenced by various factors beyond just technological considerations. These factors may impact how technology is adopted, implemented, and integrated into nationwide EM programs1. This blog will summarize key findings from Visions of Law Enforcement Technology in the Period 2024-2034: Report of the Law Enforcement Futuring Workshop to identify high-priority technology needs based on current and future societal trends.
About the Law Enforcement Futuring Workshop
The Law Enforcement Futuring Workshop was part of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) effort to assess and prioritize technology needs within the criminal justice community over a ten-to-20-year period. The report is a collaboration between the RAND Corporation, the Police Executive Research Forum, RTI International, and the University of Denver. Workshop participants included law enforcement and community corrections officers, government agencies involved in corrections technology research, academic experts, and private-sector technology providers.
What Factors Influence the Deployment of New Technology in Community Corrections?
At the start of the workshop, participants identified the following key factors that consistently influence the future of corrections including:
- The uncertainty of the national political environment and legislation.
- The aging population of the U.S.
- The legalization and decriminalization of formerly illegal drugs.
- The changing expectation and capability to live anonymously.
- The new risks and opportunities arising from new means of exchange for products and services through the Internet.
- The free accessibility of information and knowledge that was historically difficult to obtain and interpret.
- The increasingly dynamic nature of knowledge: the amount of time for which knowledge is useful is shortening while the amount of available knowledge is exploding.
- The shortening or elimination of supply chains, enabling at-home fabrication of weapons and biological materials.
- The increased automation and augmentation of law enforcement functions, manufacturing, and personal lives.
- The increasing effectiveness of the management of mental health.
- The increased automation and augmentation of community corrections functions and priorities.
- The accelerating development of technology.
- The increased persistence of biometric technology.
Participants used the Delphi consensus model to identify 30 technological needs, including improving information sharing and use, enhancing law enforcement’s technical training and literacy, developing new, reasonably priced technologies, and focusing on client rehabilitation and reintegration.
What Can We Learn from this Workshop?
The new mindset driving community corrections technology combines evidence-based practices with modern technology to create more effective and efficient approaches to supervision and rehabilitation within the criminal justice system. While technology opens a world of possibilities, it must be easily adaptable, affordable, and intuitive for officers and clients.1 Several vital elements characterize this new mindset:
- Data-driven Decision-making: Community corrections technology needs emphasize collecting, analyzing, and using data to inform decision-making processes. By leveraging data analytics and predictive modeling, agencies can identify patterns, assess risks, and allocate resources more effectively, ultimately leading to improved outcomes and reduced recidivism.
- Focus on Rehabilitation and Reintegration: Rather than using EM for punitive measures, the new mindset focuses on the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals under supervision. Technology is harnessed to offer communication with officers, access to resources, and educational programs tailored to address specific needs and risks. Mobile solutions and wearables also foster reintegration by providing a more discreet solution for clients to transition into employment and other community-based opportunities.
- Collaboration and Information Sharing: The new mindset encourages collaboration between stakeholders within the criminal justice system, such as law enforcement, courts, community corrections agencies, and support organizations. Technology facilitates secure data sharing, fostering a more holistic approach to supervision and rehabilitation.
- Innovation and Adaptability: The new mindset also embraces innovation and the continuous search for new technologies and methodologies to improve community corrections’ effectiveness. Agencies are encouraged to be open to adopting new approaches. When choosing a provider, agencies should look for 24/7 live support and continuous training so officers stay abreast of new functionality.
For more than 40 years, BI Incorporated has played a large role in the transformation of community corrections, providing services that support agency efforts to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism. As we look ahead to the next decade, BI continues to work closely with our public sector partners to support the development and implementation of innovative technologies and practices that deliver greater value to the taxpayer and improve public safety.
1National Institute of Justice, “Visions of Law Enforcement Technology in the Period 2024-2034,” March 17, 2015, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR908.html
2National Institute of Justice, “Community Corrections Technology: Experts Identify Top Needs for Tech Solutions to Probation and Parole System Challenges,” March 17, 2021, https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/community-corrections-technology-experts-identify-top-needs-tech-solutions