COUNTY LINES

Defendants pay to have smart cards keep tabs on them

Check back, Jack. The Oakland County, Mich., Community Corrections Division recently began keeping tabs on its released pretrial defendants with a kiosk check-in system that the defendants pay to maintain.

'We're being asked to do more with less, and it's just a great way to spread our resources,' county Pretrial Services Unit chief Barbara Hankey said.

Released defendants awaiting trial must check in at least weekly with one of the unit's five pretrial supervision officers, Hankey said. Ideally, the officers each would oversee 80 defendants at a time, but recently they have averaged about 150, she said.

The system, from AutoMon Corp. of Scottsdale, Ariz., runs in two county locations. Each has a kiosk connected via Category 5 cable to an administrative PC, AutoMon spokeswoman Mary Jo Lambert said.

The kiosks and PCs run AutoMon's Probation Automated Management software under Microsoft Windows 98 on 400-MHz IBM 300PLs with 64M of RAM and 6G hard drives.


Sign up here. At the PCs, officers enroll defendants and capture their fingerprints digitally with TouchSafe II fingerprint scanners from Identix Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., AutoMon assistant programmer Bradey Stephens said.

Defendants then receive a personalized magnetic-stripe card for checking in with the system.

Defendants check in at designated times by running their cards through a kiosk's card reader and providing fingerprint identification at its TouchSafe II reader.

Defendants then answer a series of questions that, for instance, verify address and disclose any legal trouble since their last visit. They pick up any messages their officer has left such as a notification of a change in trial date or a request for a meeting. The defendants also pay their $20 monthly fee at the kiosks.

At the end of each session, a kiosk's thermal printer, from Magnetec Corp. of Wallingford, Conn., prints a check-in confirmation and payment receipt.


Red flag. Back in the administrative office, an IBM Network 17 printer generates reports listing missed check-ins and prints letters that give a new check-in date. If a defendant misses the second date, an arrest warrant is issued, Lambert said. The county also is thinking of using the system for people on probation, she said.

'We're hoping to use the kiosk for some of the lower-level offenders who don't need the structure' of more supervised check-ins, Hankey said just before the system went live, 'or for those offenders who have proved themselves for a couple of months.'

AutoMon remotely monitors the system via a direct-line link.

'Claire E. House

Internet: chouse@gcn.com

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