Law enforcement officers are tasked to monitor offenders who are on parole, probation or on house arrest in the U.S. and ensure compliance with specific terms. Depending on the sentence or crime committed, parolees and probationers may not be allowed to cross state lines, break curfew, leave the house when they are not supposed to, or consume alcohol and drugs. 

Some supervisory methods involve reporting to an officer every few weeks at a predetermined location or simply having the officer visit a house arrestee’s residence at random intervals to make sure they are where they are supposed to be. Dependent on the crime it may call for intermittent drug testing and GPS-monitored anklets to surveil an offender’s 24/7 whereabouts, sometimes compared to other locations such as schools, a former spouse’s house, and other prohibited locations. 

This presents a problem that the resources needed to monitor offenders in these ways have not always increased in step with the total volume of parolees and probationers, which strains supervisory officers. 

Due to technological advances, mobile technology such as smartphones and Bluetooth devices paired with biometric-based reporting have appeared as potential solutions to help parole and probation officers handle the increasing number of supervisory tasks in their caseloads. These technologies have potential to improve offender monitoring and even facilitate better rehabilitation outcomes. 

Existing biometrics use cases in offender supervision 

Many jurisdictions throughout the world already use biometrics-based offender supervision. For example, the U.K. (United Kingdom). recently implemented biometrics-enabled self-reporting kiosks, according to The Guardian. Supervised offenders who have complied with the initial stages of their parole or probation are rewarded with the choice to report to an electronic kiosk rather than seeing a probation officer. 

Each time an offender reports in, first, they need to complete a fingerprint recognition scan to verify that someone else is not checking in on their behalf. They can then provide any required information, receive instruction, or schedule a face-to-face meeting with a supervisory officer. 

By automating this reporting process, the strain that has resulted from a swell in the number of parolees and probationers is taken off supervisory officers. 

Marquis software, provider of Offender Management Software solutions, leveraged Aware’s Knomi in authentication of offenders in Arkansas. They understand the critical need for multi-factor authentication when security is key. 

Once offenders check-in with their parole/probation officers online, according to the terms of their specific case. Knomi enables multifactor authentication with the convenience of mobile biometrics during the check-in to ensure a strong, difficult to duplicate, passwordless authentication. The officer can use their smart phone to confirm their location with the offenders face, voice, phone, location and time.  

More than 10,000 offender identities have been authenticated with Aware’s Knomi mobile biometric authentication solution, featuring face and voice liveness detection. 

Mobile biometrics: a replacement for GPS anklets 

Robert Gable – one of the experts credited for inventing the first electronic monitoring system for criminal offenders – now argues that smartphones should be used in place of ankle bracelets to track location. They have become powerful computing devices, and today are ubiquitous.77 percent of Americans own one, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Unlike an ankle bracelet, offenders use these devices voluntarily. But like ankle bracelets, smartphones can reliably and precisely track a user’s location. More importantly, smartphones have cameras and microphones that can be used for biometric verification via modalities such as voice, face, or a combination of the two. While the device’s GPS technology is used to accurately determine a subject’s location, biometric verification is used to confirm that the check-in is being performed live by the subject; not by someone else and not using a spoofed biometric such as a digital photo or video of the subject. 

For example, an offender may be required to biometrically check in at certain times during the day using face and recognition on their smartphone. The device records the exact time and location when the biometric verification is performed, and this data is confirmed by the biometric match and liveness checks. 

The future of offender supervision 

A variety of other add-on devices and apps either already exist or are in development as technology advances. This may help automate compliance monitoring, from telemetry tracking to breathalyzer devices that make use of facial recognition. The precise details of how these and other mobile devices can be used to keep up with the number of compliance-monitoring tasks are still being ironed out. It is also worth mentioning that the terms of every parole or probation are different, meaning certain mechanisms may be better suited to specific situations than others. 

As of now, mobile biometrics are the only certainty; modalities like face and voice will be critical to the integrity of digital and electronic advancements in the offender tracking systems of the future. See how our new offeringAwareABIS™ has mobile biometric capabilities that can help your agency and community 

Contact Aware to learn about their deployments of mobile biometrics for law enforcement. 

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