ClientComm: Reducing recidivism
The best way to keep clients compliant with the terms of their probation is to check in with them often. ClientComm makes it easy to keep in touch.
Salt Lake County is struggling with individuals cycling in and out of jail due to missing court appearances or court-ordered treatment. Those jail stays are expensive, inefficient and, most of all, don't help address the person's underlying issues.
In Salt Lake County, probation case managers juggle an average of about 85 clients, checking in with each once or twice a month. Pretrial case managers—who work with defendants who are awaiting trial in the community—average 110 clients at a time. Clients are often dealing with other things like unstable family, housing and employment situations; changing addresses and phone numbers. All of these things makes it hard to stay in touch.
Case managers know the best way to keep their clients compliant with the terms of their probation is to check in with them often, remind them of their commitments, and help them with problems that arise. Stakes are high—if they don’t comply with probation, they may go to jail.
ClientComm lets case managers send clients text messages from their computers. Conversations are kept together even if the client changes phone numbers. ClientComm triages texts based on communication history and authentication, and assigns messages to the right case.
After only a few months, probation officers are using ClientComm to text hundreds of their clients on a daily basis. But it wasn’t as simple as creating an archivable messaging client, because working with the probation population isn’t simple.
The people this probation office serves do have access to cell phones. 95 percent of people arrested in Salt Lake County have a cell phone on them at the time of arrest, and they gain access again when they are released. The problem is that they have intermittent access and phone numbers that change frequently. This population frequently shares, trades, and borrows phones, often with other people also on probation.
"Some of [our clients] have a lot of stuff to get done. It could be really easy to lose track of their obligations. I mean, I’ve got some single moms with five kids! It would so helpful if they could figure out what they need to do." - Probation case manager, Criminal Justice Services.
A text from a particular number may not be from the last person who used the phone. And since the record of SMS communication can make a difference in whether someone returns to jail or not, getting the right text to the right probation officer and in the right client’s record is important.
Automation and notification features allows for case managers to efficiently deliver individualized reminders about upcoming court dates, treatment appointments and more.
The team is getting enthusiastic feedback from clients and case managers alike, and is working hard to determine if these interventions can demonstrate increased compliance and reduced recidivism by the end of the fellowship in November 2016.