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Marion County using new technology to track offenders

November 19, 2015

Marion County correctional employees soon will have a new tool at their disposal to help them track the activity of offenders who are monitored using electronic ankle bracelets.

Community Corrections Executive Director John Deiter says the new technology, called Analytics, rapidly analyzes millions of GPS, or global positioning satellite, data points produced each month by the offenders. It's assisting public safety efforts while saving time with case management.

“It’s about holding offenders accountable,” Deiter said. “We already have caseloads of 75 per case manager. It’s really difficult to dig into each case. You don’t have that much time during the day. Now you can look at activity of all clients at the same time.”

The platform was developed by Salt Lake City-based Track Group, which has an Indianapolis office run by former community corrections director Brian Barton. Track Group acts as the case manager for about 900 of the county’s offenders who are being monitored in civilian life, while Marion County staff manages about 2,300 clients.

Only a portion of those 3,200 clients are on GPS monitoring. County officials did not respond prior to IBJ deadline to requests for the number being monitored, other than to say it was significant.

Marion County has been using the platform on a pilot basis for the last several months, with just two of the county’s case managers able to access the program. But the state Department of Corrections recently approved a $200,000 addition to the county’s grant that will next year allow access for all 31 case managers and supervisors.

“We’ve been chomping at the bit for everyone to have this access,” Deiter said.

The tool could come in handy by tipping off law enforcement about offenders’ possible criminal behavior. For example, say there was a house in Indianapolis where police suspected drug activity was taking place, Deiter said. The tool would allow case managers to see if any of their clients had ever been at the address. It could also allow case managers to see if any of their clients were meeting at the same locations.

“It should allow us to have better real-time information so we can get warrants quicker if someone is going where they’re not supposed to go,” Deiter said.

But Barton said it’s also useful in the day-to-day management of clients.

The tool allows users to make predictions about future activity by analyzing a client’s life patterns and coding various locations or activities as “interesting” or “not interesting” so officers can prioritize their time and investigate activities or locations that stick out.

“It’s not only validating what we hope is right,” Barton said, “but it’s also saying, ‘What are you doing during these hours? If you’re living by yourself, you’ve got to go to the grocery store. I know now when you’ve gone there, as opposed to waiting a month later to find out if you really were there.”

Barton said the survey helps tighten up the current process, which should make everyone feel safer.

“If they believe there’s any kind of lapse in their supervision, some folks will take advantage,” Barton said. “We know that. It’s our job for the next six months or a year to make sure they don’t.” 

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