Reducing Recidivism With Technology: The Future Is Here, and It’s Time to Embrace It

By Bob Hampe

When you think about incarceration, the word “technology” may not come directly to mind. Currently, RTLS technologies are primarily utilized as a staff safety device.  But in recent years, corrections facilities have increased their use of indoor positioning tech for inmate tracking, behavior tracking and more.  To me that’s only the tip of the iceberg in how they can improve the carceral system. 

Recidivism in the United States is noticeably higher than other countries; almost 77% of prisoners are rearrested within five years of release. That’s damaging to families and communities in both social and economic contexts. It’s high time to think creatively about the ways we can use technology to reduce recidivism and make the transition “back to society” smoother for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Why RTLS Solutions in Corrections Facilities Matter 

Do you find it relatively simple to learn new technologies or discover and use new applications on your smartphone? How much of your job relies on your ability to learn and synthesize technology? Tech literacy is critically important for functioning and thriving in our tech-forward society, and even jobs away from desks often require the ability to manage email or time-tracking software.

But for those who have been incarcerated for extended periods, the technologies that many of us take for granted can be entirely foreign—and totally alienating. Reintegrating into society is difficult enough without the need to rapidly upskill in terms of tech literacy. 

With sanctioned, supervised tech usage in corrections facilities, incarcerated individuals can prepare for their upcoming release in secure ways. They can learn skills for finding, applying for and retaining employment. They can build confidence by learning skills like coding, as inmates in California’s San Quentin State Prison have (and continue to do) through programs like the Last Mile. And these programs really work: Graduates from the San Quentin program boast a zero percent recidivism rate. Zero percent! 

Education, job training and rehabilitation programs have a significant impact on recidivism rates, with the potential to cut them nearly in half—and that doesn’t even take into account the quality of these programs. It seems that any such intervention can make a positive impact. 

Using RTLS products to promote positive inmate behaviors and access to advanced education and training programs can provide a hidden bonus for facility management.  Knowing the ‘count’ on a real time basis provides a significant ROI, but those benefits can be dwarfed by leveraging the same technology as a near real time reward mechanism as an input to training and advancement.  The bottom line: Tech-forward interventions and education can help craft a new reality for inmates, giving them needed tools to navigate the “real world” and making recidivism much less likely. 

Actall’s Commitment to Safety and Behavior Change

Our mission is to help create safe, supportive environments in complex, challenging settings. We are proud to supply highly customized RTLS solutions to corrections facilities all across North America. 

We believe that accuracy matters, and that the right technological interventions not only can save lives but also enhance them in measurable ways. By leveraging technology with rehabilitative techniques, perhaps one day the United States can approach the low recidivism rates found in countries like Norway, which boasts a 20% total recidivism rate. 

We’re committed to equipping complex physical environments of all shapes and sizes with the tools facility operators need to ensure safety, increase efficiency and track people and assets accurately. For more information, feel free to reach out anytime