NY tries biometric kiosks for probationers

NY installs biometric kiosks for probationers

Low-risk offenders on probation in New York City no longer have to check in monthly with their probation officers so long as at least one of their hands is on file. Kael Goodman, the Probation Department's assistant commissioner and CIO, has installed 14 biometric-enabled kiosks at offices in several boroughs where probationers can report their whereabouts and progress.

About 11,000 offenders are required to use the kiosks instead of making appointments to see an officer. Eliminating in-person appointments reduces human error and frees probation officers to deal with higher-risk criminals, Goodman said. Seventy-six percent of the criminals on probation in New York City are high-risk felons.

The kiosks connect directly to the department's Adult Restructuring Tracking System database. A subject places one hand on the hand-geometry reader, answers a few questions and leaves. The system automatically informs a designated officer if a probationer fails to report once a month.

Offenders initially have a photo and hand-geometry indicia recorded for the tracking database. 'We know who our people are, we know where they live,' Goodman said. 'We've leveraged the best biometric technology we can find.'

Hand-geometry readers might deny access if a subject is wearing jewelry, has longer fingernails or has changed body weight, he said. Goodman plans to add kiosks with voice-recognition technology, which tests voice stress and intonation as a backup identifier. Offenders could then call in their reports verbally. But voice technology is less reliable, he said, because it sometimes doesn't pick up varied speech patterns and accents correctly.


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