Illinois Department of Corrections is Transforming Parole Efficiency: A Collaborative Solution for Successful Reentry

Illinois Department of Corrections transforms parole efficiency with the help of BI Agency Assist

The following is a summary of highlights from a live presentation by Chief Jason C. Garnett, Illinois Department of Corrections and Henry Conforti, Vice President of Monitoring Operations, BI Incorporated on July 1, 2024, at the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) 49th Annual Training Institute.

In 1895, Illinois passed its first parole law, generally referred to as the Illinois Parole Law. Under that law, a minimum sentence would be given for a specific crime at a specific prison. The law gave prison wardens the power to release individuals on parole after serving that minimum time.

Today, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Parole Division remains dedicated to promoting public safety and reducing recidivism by effectively supervising and supporting individuals released from prison.

“The mission of the Parole Division is to serve justice in Illinois and increase public safety by promoting positive change in releasee behavior, operating successful reentry programs and reducing victimization.” – Chief Jason C. Garnett

Smart Supervision: IDOC Parole’s Tech-driven Initiatives

The Parole Division employs a diverse range of initiatives to supervise various populations effectively and efficiently in the community. These include violence reduction collaborations, day reporting centers, electronic monitoring, video visitation, risk assessment tools, and specialized parole units for specific groups such as women, fugitives, and sex offenders.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IDOC Parole adapted its practices by implementing face-to-face video visits when home visits were not feasible during Illinois’ nearly three-month stay-at-home order. This ensured that the needs of supervised individuals were consistently met. The video visitation tool, known as BI SmartLINK®, has proven highly successful, prompting Parole to continue using this mobile supervision app for low-risk individuals after the pandemic.

To enhance monitoring capabilities, particularly for the sex offender population, the division utilizes Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. The BI TotalAccess® monitoring system provides parole agents with 24/7 access to supervised individuals’ location data.

This advanced system integrates with Google Maps®, enabling agents to create custom zones, track movements, and review location history, thereby improving case management. When movement violations occur, both the assigned agent and commanders receive immediate notifications, ensuring IDOC Parole always remains informed.

Challenges Faced by Parole Agents

In today’s high-caseload environment, spending a significant portion of their workday on administrative tasks is a common challenge. Many agents can find themselves dedicating around 80% of their time to data entry, scheduling, handling alerts, and other clerical duties, leaving only 20% for direct client interaction and supervision.

Recognizing the limitations imposed by this imbalance, the IDOC chose to leverage technology to alleviate the administrative burden on its parole agents.

Transformed Operations with BI Agency Assist®

To address these challenges, IDOC partners with BI Incorporated and implements BI Agency Assist services. This innovative, high-touch monitoring option provides a range of administrative and data management services which include:

  • 24/7 Live Support: Highly trained support specialists are available around the clock to assist parole agents.
  • Contact Documentation: Agents dictate case notes while in the field, and support specialists transcribe them in real-time, streamlining the documentation process. Case specialists also document alerts and update client information.
  • Scheduling: Support specialists handle client calls for scheduling, verifying, and amending appointments, reducing the administrative burden on agents.
  • Enhanced Monitoring: Case specialists handle alerts and escalations, reducing the alert flow to agents and enabling them to focus on high-priority cases. This can include dispatch of agent, agent dispositions of dispatched events, and field service contacts.
  • Client Docs: Agents and case specialists can upload and access client documents and records in a centralized system, reducing paperwork and improving record-keeping.
  • Automated Services: Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology enables clients to check-in/out of residence and verify schedules, further reducing administrative tasks for agents.

Improved Efficiency & Client Interaction

By leveraging BI Agency Assist, IDOC has transformed its parole operations. Agents now spend only 25% of their workday on administrative tasks and a remarkable 75% on direct client interaction and supervision.

This innovative partnership has empowered parole agents to focus on their core responsibilities of promoting public safety and supporting successful reentry through:

  • Enhanced parole/probation supervision
  • Greater accountability
  • Reduced officer data entry responsibilities
  • Full compliance and reporting standards
  • Centralization of data
  • Integration of systems
  • Reinforced electronic monitoring programs
  • A continual 24/7 presence

The collaboration between IDOC and BI exemplifies the power of leveraging technology and innovative solutions to enhance the effectiveness of parole supervision, and ultimately contribute to safer communities in Illinois.

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