Bureau of Justice Statistics releases figures on prison populations in 2013

| | | |

barb wire 1The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently released a report that found state prison populations rose for the first time since 2009, while the federal prison population declined for the first time since 1980.

According to the report, “Prisoners in 2013,” in December 2013, state and federal prisons held approximately 1.57 million prisoners, an increase of 4,300 prisoners from year-end 2012.

That increase reflects a 6,300 inmate increase in the state prison population during 2013, and a decrease of 1,900 inmates in the federal prison population.

Other highlights include:

  • The number of prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal prison increased by 5,400 persons from year-end 2012 to year-end 2013.
  • The number of people admitted to state or federal prison during 2013 increased by 4%, from 608,400 in 2012 to 631,200 in 2013.
  • The number of sentenced prisoners grew in 27 states, including three of the four states with the largest prison populations: Texas (up 2 percent), California (up 1 percent) and Florida (up 1 percent).
  • The number of female prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal prison rose by 2,800 inmates (up 3 percent).

The report also examines the progress of California’s Public Safety Realignment policy, finding that California state prisons held 122,800 inmates in custody at year-end 2013. An additional 13,200 prisoners were held in private prisons or in other states.

Due to realignment, California experienced large declines in its prison population in 2011 and 2012. By year-end 2013, the state’s prisoners in custody were 143 percent of the design capacity, down from 181 percent in 2010.

Read the full report here.

BI Incorporated, the nation’s leader in electronic monitoring technology, works with more than a dozen agencies in California and many more throughout the United States to provide alternatives to incarceration in an attempt to help alleviate prison overcrowding.

Electronic monitoring is designed to complement traditional incarceration while saving taxpayers money and allowing offenders suitable to the program to forego prison while still maintaining compliance to court-ordered sanctions designed to discourage future criminal activity.

Posted in Industry News

Morgan County receives nearly perfect audit score for second year

| | | |

morgan countyMorgan County Community Corrections, a BI Incorporated customer since 1995, once again ranked number one in the state following an annual review by the Indiana Department of Corrections, who performed an intensive on-site audit.

Morgan County Community Corrections scored 96 out of 100 for the on-site audit, as well a 100 on the presentation portion for a written grant application to the Indiana DOC, which earned the agency a $20,932 performance bonus.

The community corrections department manages several diverse, evidence-based programs that focus on assisting offenders in establishing lives free of crime. Community Corrections Coordinator Jim Reed credits many of the department’s successes with their unique structure which combines probation with the other community corrections programs so that supervising officers know every detail of each participant’s case.

The county uses electronic monitoring as an alternative to incarceration, employing a wide selection of BI products so that offenders can be matched up to the appropriate technology in an attempt to encourage compliance.

Morgan County uses the BI ExacuTrack® One, BI ExacuTrack®, BI HomeGuard® 200 and HomeGuard 206, BI TAD® and, more recently, the SOBERLINK SL2.

The county also uses BI TotalAccess® and is supported by BI Monitoring Operations.

The county typically monitors at least 55 offenders under their electronic monitoring program, which is overseen by three officers, though the program has managed up to almost 100 individuals at one time.

This is the second year Morgan County ranked the highest out of 92 counties in Indiana.

Posted in Industry News

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement renews contract with BI Incorporated

| | | |

ICEUnited States Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently renewed a five-year contract with BI Incorporated to receive case management and supervisions services under the Enforcement and Removal Operations’ Intensive Supervision Appearance Program. BI has managed this program for ICE since its inception in 2004 and after its revision and expansion as ISAP II in 2009. Today, BI operates more than 40 ISAP offices.

ISAP is a core component of the Department of Homeland Security’s Alternatives to Detention program, providing case management and supervision to individuals involved in immigration proceedings. The program works to facilitate attendance at immigration hearings and compliance with court orders. ISAP has been successful in raising attendance rates at immigration hearings for participants as well as compliance with final court orders.

ISAP has several service levels, including frequent reporting to an ISAP office for case management services as well as a technology-only offering that involves electronic monitoring equipment and services. For electronic monitoring equipment, BI has supplied BI ExacuTrack® One and BI VoiceID.

The ExacuTrack One is a one-piece GPS tracking unit that offers reliable monitoring data that can send alerts to supervising officers via a pager, email, PDA or a combination of methods if warranted. The device allows officers to confidently monitor individuals awaiting immigration hearings and ensure participants are responding to curfews and schedules.

VoiceID is an equipment-free location monitoring system that only requires the use of a telephone, making it an economical option. With VoiceID, participants call an automated system that verifies their identity through biometric “voiceprint” authentication.

Through a series of outbound calls to the client or inbound calls from the participant, the VoiceID system verifies that the individual is at the required pre-determined location. The low-maintenance but reliable system is useful for supervisors overwhelmed by large caseloads.

To learn more about ERO, click here. To learn more about BI’s technology and treatment options, click here.

Posted in Monitoring Operations

Vigo County to use BI HomeGuard 206 for home-detention monitoring

| | | |

Offenders sentenced to home-detention in Vigo County, Indiana, will be monitored with the BI HomeGuard® 206, a cellular-based monitoring system that reliably monitors individuals for compliance to their curfews and schedules.

The Vigo County Board of Commissioners recently approved the contract between the Vigo County Community Directions Department and BI Incorporated and the county will receive 120 of the HomeGuard 206 systems.

Community Corrections Director Bill Watson told the board the digital system would allow for easier access to the home detention monitoring program by the majority of offenders. That’s because the HomeGuard 206 does not require a traditional phone landline, but instead has an embedded cellular unit, making it available for a wider range of offenders.

As it is, many offenders do not have access to landlines, whether they have outstanding phone bills or, like most people, simply use a cell phone for all of their communication needs.

The HomeGuard 206 electronic monitoring system uses radio frequency to continuously verify that the offender is where they are supposed to be. The system includes a durable transmitter worn by the offender that communicates with the HomeGuard 206 cellular receiver, which reports the offender’s presence or absence in the home.

As with other electronic monitoring and GPS tracking systems, agencies and supervising officers have the flexibility to determine policies and procedures for notifications and alerts when offenders deviate from schedules and curfews.

You can read more about the HomeGuard 206 here.

Posted in Monitoring Technology

SOBERLINK SL2 Q&A with Founder and CEO, Brad Keays

| | | |

SOBERLINK SL2The SOBERLINK® SL2 is a mobile, handheld breath alcohol monitoring device which measures BrAC through deep lung breath samples. SOBERLINK SL2 incorporates photo identity verification, professional grade fuel cell technology and GPS to ensure the client is accurately identified, located and tested. The device is extremely easy to use for any offender population and allows clients to discreetly submit BrAC tests from any location. Unlike SOBERLINK, other devices are larger, more difficult to use, and simply compare test photos against a single master file photo instead of a full photo library like the SL2. The GPS point is collected during each test, delivering assurance of the individual’s location during the recommended 3-4 tests throughout the day.

Brad Keays is the founder and CEO of SOBERLINK, Inc. With the introduction of the SL1 in mid-2011, SOBERLINK created a new category in alcohol monitoring focused around mobile handheld technology. Below, Brad answers questions about SOBERLINK and the SL2:

Q. What inspired you to start an alcohol monitoring company?
A. My father was in the business for years and one day I realized that there had not been any technology advances for 15 years. I had owned technology companies in the past working alongside both software and hardware engineers. I knew that a better system could be built but was not sure how to design the perfect system until 2009. In 2009 after downloading my first Smartphone APP, I realized that cellular technology was the ideal avenue for advancing breath alcohol monitoring.

Q. How does the SL2 device work?
A. During each breath test, the SL2 Breathalyzer takes a picture of the end-user to confirm their identity. The real-time photo and breath alcohol result are wirelessly transmitted on Verizon’s Private Network to SOBERLINK’s cloud-based monitoring site. Direct alerts can be set up for contacts when signs of a relapse, such as a missed or positive test, occur.

Q. How accurate are the alcohol test results?
A. The SL2 device contains a professional-grade fuel cell sensor with a detection range of 0.000% – 0.400% BrAC and an accuracy level of +/- .005 BrAC. The fuel cell that SOBERLINK uses is a globally trusted sensor used for high-end workplace and law enforcement breath alcohol instruments.

Q. How does fuel cell technology work?
A. When a breath sample containing alcohol comes in contact with the surface of the fuel cell, the alcohol is quickly absorbed. A chemical reaction occurs in the fuel cell, in which the alcohol oxidizes. This oxidation process converts alcohol to acetic acid, which releases an electric current. The higher the alcohol concentration in the breath sample, the greater the chemical reaction and the higher the BrAC. If alcohol is not present in the sample, there is no chemical reaction, no electrons are released, and the result would be .000 BrAC.

Q. How do you verify the right person is taking the test?
A. In early 2014, SOBERLINK released Adaptive Facial Recognition™, which has virtually eliminated the need for officers to review compliant participant photos. The SL2 device has an embedded high-resolution camera that takes a picture of the participant during the breath alcohol test. The software spatially analyzes each point-in-time photograph against a collective library of participant file photos. The software also recognizes and adapts to subtle appearance changes, such as facial hair.

Q. What happens if there is a positive test?
A. In the event of a positive test, the system sends out direct alerts to predetermined contacts and the client will be prompted to retest in order to confirm consumption of alcohol versus accidental exposure (i.e. mouthwash).

Q. Do clients need a cell phone to use the SL2?
A. No, the SL2 contains a cellular module and sends test results via Verizon’s wireless network. As an optional feature on the monitoring site, enrolled clients may opt to receive reminder text messages on their personal cell phone when a test is due. Although the clients receive text reminders, each client should also receive a hard copy of their testing schedule and the expected procedure for positive test results.

Q. How often does the SL2 device need to be calibrated?
A. The SL2 device has an internal test counter, and case managers receive an email alert when a calibration accuracy check is due. Fuel cell sensor accuracy may last for many years, however SOBERLINK recommends calibration checks when prompted.

Q. How does the testing schedule work?
A. The monitoring site allows for customized client testing schedules. A “Scheduled” test means that a client has a variable testing window in which to send their test, starting 15 minutes before the test time and ending after the selected variable testing time. The variable testing windows can be set for 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour or 4 hour durations. However, clients may submit a test at any time. If the test was not scheduled through the monitoring site, it will be labeled as an “Unscheduled” test.

Q. How do client text reminders work?
A. Clients must authorize use of their personal cell numbers and accept an initial opt-in text message from the SOBERLINK monitoring portal. Officers enroll and set up client test schedules in the system. Once enrolled, clients receive the automated text reminder 15 minutes prior to each scheduled test. A separate Alert feature enables predetermined contacts to receive automatic email and/or text notification for positive test results or tests taken outside of a scheduled testing window.

Q. Who has access to test results?
A. One of the major benefits of the SOBERLINK monitoring software platform is the ability to customize access for multiple individuals within an agency. For example, officers may be authorized to receive full access or read-only access to view results at any time. SOBERLINK is the only company that has Daily, Weekly or Monthly automated reporting. These reports provide a synopsis of client activity, making caseload management easier.

Q. Has the SL2 been challenged in court?
A. Yes, SOBERLINK, Inc. and authorized SOBERLINK Service Providers have testified and successfully defended the technology many times. The 3 years of testimony has validated the reliability and accuracy of the SL2 device in court hearings. One example of a judges ruling was “I am satisfied that we are going to know if she touched any alcohol. I think the device works just fine and gives the information that we need to know and mostly keeps (defendant) honest about her consumption.”

Q. Any plans to expand your product line?
A. Yes, we are anticipating the release of our newest product the SLBLUE, which is set to release in third quarter 2014. The SLBLUE sends test data through an iPhone or iPad, therefore, there is never an excuse not to send a test. If someone is in an area with no cell coverage they can connect to the nearest Wi-Fi network and send their test that way.

Q. There are many similar products coming to market, what makes SOBERLINK different?
A. We take a lot of pride at SOBERLINK in designing our product to be discreet and easy to use. We realize that the client has a life and we do our best to make it convenient for them to prove their sobriety. That being said, we have built in many features to ensure accuracy that our competition has been unable to duplicate. One example is our Tamper Detection technology. Our engineers worked for years to refine algorithms to detect any type of tampering. Each week we successfully identify multiple clients trying to beat our system.

SOBERLINK, Inc. will continue to be the leader in developing innovative mobile alcohol monitoring devices and software to help change behavior and promote accountability for those in recovery.

Posted in Monitoring Technology, Uncategorized

Caring for aging inmates

| | | |

PrisonsHealth care costs for elderly inmates continues to grow across the United States as prison populations age, but some states are looking for alternative ways to care for these inmates and, in the process, reduce the cost of their care.

According to the National Institute of Corrections, approximately 246,000 state and federal prisoners—of a total 2.3 million—are 50 or older, and the U.S. spends more than $16 billion caring for them. And that number is only expected to grow.

Elderly populations can be so costly to care for because they are more susceptible to chronic medical conditions, and it’s suggested that inmates develop debilitating conditions at younger ages than people who have never been incarcerated.

As the Pew Charitable Trusts article states, some alternatives to traditional incarceration have included “medical parole” programs and “compassionate release,” and, in Connecticut, they are even contracting with the commercial nursing home industry to provide facilities that accept aging inmates who require long-term nursing care.

The benefit of such a contract is that nursing homes can become certified to receive federal Medicaid payments, lessening the burden of health care costs on taxpayers.

Because it’s projected that the elderly inmate population will more than triple in the next 15 years, it’s important that smart alternatives are found.

Another alternative is the use of community supervision and electronic monitoring. With electronic monitoring, supervising officials can set up curfews and boundaries for elderly inmates while allowing them to receive care in their own homes. Such a process alleviates the costs of caring for inmates in prison while still working to maintain public safety.

BI Incorporated works with correctional agencies across the country to provide smart alternatives to traditional incarceration, including electronic monitoring systems that include GPS tracking, alcohol monitoring and more. Read more about our technology and treatment programs here.

Posted in Industry News

New Jersey governor signs bill establishing alternative pretrial release

| | | |

New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, recently signed into law a bill that will allow defendants who can’t afford to pay for bail out of jail on an alternative pretrial release system.

The legislation creates non-monetary alternatives to bail so lower-level offenders do not have to spend months in jail waiting for their trial to commence, which can be a sometimes long, and drawn-out process. The legislation also includes a risk-assessment system for pretrial detainees to determine their risk levels.

Nationwide, more than 60 percent of jail inmates are pretrial defendants awaiting court proceedings. With crowded court dockets, pretrial defendants who can’t post bail have become a major expense and reason for jail crowding. Increasingly, correctional agencies are employing pretrial alternative such as electronic monitoring, which is more cost-effective than keeping an individual in jail.

BI Incorporated works with many pretrial service agencies that have incorporated the use of electronic monitoring systems—including devices that monitor for sobriety or include GPS tracking—to help move defendants to community supervision. Electronic monitoring allows supervising officers to accurately monitor the movements of pretrial defendants, while also allowing participants to continue with their daily lives, including maintaining jobs and managing child care.

To read more about the bail reform measure signed by Gov. Christie, click here.

To read more about BI’s electronic monitoring products and how they can support probation, parole and pretrial service agencies, click here.

Posted in Industry News

SOBERLINK adds range for test ‘window’

| | | |

SOBERLINK SL2SOBERLINK, Inc. is introducing Variable Testing Windows to their alcohol monitoring technology which will allow supervising officers to increase the amount of time users have to submit a mobile breath alcohol test.

Supervising officers will now be able to set testing windows for 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours or 4 hours. Currently, users have 30 minutes from the time they are notified of a mandatory test to submit their breath sample. The new feature was created to permit customization for individual users’ needs after SOBERLINK received feedback that some users did not have enough time to submit tests.

To set the variable window, select the duration of the testing window from the drop down once you are logged into your secure web portal. Once the window is set, the duration will apply to all tests for that particular user.

BI Incorporated is the exclusive master distributor of the SOBERLINK SL2 for the criminal justice market, excluding Oklahoma and Texas. The SL2 is an innovative handheld device, both cellular and GPS enabled, that allows community corrections agencies to monitor offender sobriety in the community. BI is a national provider of electronic monitoring technology and monitoring services for community corrections and immigration agencies. SOBERLINK was founded in 2010 and began selling SOBERLINK devices in 2011. Today, SOBERLINK transmits more than 25,000 remote breath tests each day.


Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Technology

JAG Program awarded nearly $300 million in 2014

| | | |

The United States Bureau of Justice Assistance recently released the total number of funds allocated for the 2014 Justice Assistance Grant awards, reporting that more than $300 million was awarded. Of that, approximately $238 million went to states, while $7.2 million went to territories and the District of Columbia.

The JAG program awards funding to each state and territory for law enforcement and corrections programs based on that state or territory’s share of the nation’s violent crime and population.

The awards are given specifically for the following purposes:

  • law enforcement
  • prosecution and courts
  • prevention and education
  • corrections and community corrections
  • drug treatment
  • planning, evaluation, and technology improvement
  • crime victim and witness programs

In 2014, the five states with the largest total allocations were California ($32.2 million), Texas ($22.2 million), Florida ($18.5 million), New York ($16.5 million) and Illinois ($11.4 million). In 2014, more than 1,500 local governments were eligible for awards.

The benefit of such funding is that it allows state and local governments to pursue electronic monitoring and reentry programs like those provided by BI Incorporated and our sister company GEO Reentry Services. Many of the programs BI and GEO Reentry have provided were accomplished with funding from the JAG program.

BI is partnered with correctional agencies across the country to provide GPS monitoring, traditional RF monitoring, alcohol monitoring technology and more. Such programs allow correctional agencies to save on costly incarceration while still helping to keep offenders placed under supervision accountable for their actions.

To learn more about how the Bureau of Justice Statistics calculates how to allocate the awards, click here.

To learn more about BI’s products, click here.


Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Operations, Monitoring Technology

Alcohol monitoring to combat drunk driving and encourage road safety

| | | |


A recent Forbes article details a proposed federal law that would mandate the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk driving offenders in every state. Across the country, legislators have been working to pass legislation that clamps down on efforts to reduce driving under the influence.

Ignition interlocks are typically one part of the equation, along with alcohol monitoring systems that can monitor repeat offenders daily.

According to Forbes, more than 10,000 people die each year due to a drunk driver—while drunk driving costs taxpayers $132 billion annually.

Ignition interlock devices and alcohol monitoring work to enforce sobriety and reduce the likelihood of an offender driving drunk.

BI Incorporated offers three alcohol monitoring systems: the BI TAD®, the SOBERLINK SL2 and the BI Sobrietor®.

The TAD includes continuous alcohol monitoring and radio frequency monitoring in one ankle-worn device. The system measures ingested alcohol through a sensor on the ankle bracelet via vaporous or insensible perspiration passed through the skin. The TAD also acts as a home electronic monitoring system to detect the presence or absence of a person at home at pre-determined times.

The SL2 is a handheld, wireless testing device that transmits BrAC test results in real-time. The device collects a deep-lung breath sample while simultaneously photographing the user to ensure the offender being monitored is the person providing the sample.

Like the SL2, the Sobrietor collects a deep-lung breath sample and results are transmitted remotely through a telephone connection. The test results are then matched against a highly reliable biometric voiceprint.

Tests for both the SL2 and the Sobrietor can be administered at random intervals or at scheduled times daily.

To learn more about BI’s technology, click here.


Posted in Monitoring Operations, Monitoring Technology