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Offender tracking an alternative to custodial sentences

Omnilink Systems : 30 July, 2008  (Application Story)
The US state of Texas is launching a program to provide an alternative to custody by using offender monitoring devices from Omnilink
With one of the largest prison systems in the US, Texas, like many other states, faces prison overcrowding issues. To alleviate the strains on the system, Victim Safety First provides alternatives to incarceration in several Texas counties.

The organisation has now announced that it is using Omnilink's offender monitoring solution to track the movements of participants in the program.
Rachele Smith, PhD, who has 24 years of mental health, substance abuse and criminal justice experience, founded Victim Safety First to create incarceration alternatives for offenders while keeping the communities in which they live safe. People who participate in Victim Safety First's programs are usually first-time offenders who have a stable home and work history; while many are pre-trial defendants. Judges refer offenders or defendants to the organisation, while working with participants to ensure they follow the judge's orders. With Omnilink's one-piece electronic monitoring solution, the organisation can ensure that participants abide by curfew and other requirements to participate in the program.

"Omnilink's offender monitoring devices are a key component of our successful program," commented Rachele Smith. "Participants know that we are aware of their locations around-the-clock, even if they are inside abiding by the rules of participation in the monitoring program. This knowledge provides additional incentive to follow the court's instructions."

Victim Safety First currently has 40 participants being monitored with Omnilink's devices, and many people have successfully graduated from the program. In addition, the program is paid for by participants, saving taxpayers the cost of housing them in jail. Monitoring provides benefits for the participants as well, showing location history records which monitor a defendant's or offender's whereabouts, demonstrating they are not in a location where a crime was committed at a particular time.

"Programs like those run by Victim Safety First are exactly what the country needs to reduce the societal and monetary costs of housing so many people in prison," said Daniel Graff-Radford, vice president of judicial sales at Omnilink. "In addition, programs with incarceration alternatives give first-time offenders a chance to re-establish themselves as contributing members of their communities."
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