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Program Profile: Global Positioning System for High-Risk Gang Offenders (California)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on October 30, 2014

Program Summary

Monitors and tracks the movement of parolees categorized as high risk for gang involvement or activity. The program is rated Promising. Parolees monitored by the GPS program had significantly less arrests for new offenses and violent offenses, but had higher odds of technical violations.

Program Description

Program Goals
The goals of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR's) global positioning system (GPS) monitoring program are to monitor and track the movement of parolees. The CDCR's High-Risk Gang Offender (HRGO) GPS monitoring program is specifically for parolees who have been categorized as high risk for gang involvement or activity.

Target Population
Parolees are categorized as high risk for gang involvement or activity by the CDCR's GPS Monitoring Gang Eligibility Assessment Criteria before receiving their parole supervision assignment. Parolees are categorized as high risk if they meet at least one of the mandatory criteria of the assessment. These criteria include being validated as a prison gang member or associate, being assigned a special condition of parole to not associate with any prison or street gang member, and previous involvement in gang activity. If a parolee meets any of the eligibility criteria, the parole agent of record and the parole unit supervisor hold a conference to determine whether the GPS monitoring program is appropriate based on additional criteria such as prior offenses and current compliance with parole conditions.

Program Components
The two main components of the HRGO GPS monitoring program are GPS monitoring and intensive supervision.

GPS Monitoring. The GPS monitoring portion of the HRGO program uses cellular and GPS technology to track parolees in real time. The unit takes a data point every minute and transmits location data every 10 minutes to the monitoring center. The monitoring center then provides the parole agent with location information in two formats. The first format is a daily summary report, which details all activity recorded by the GPS unit such as device charging activity, zone violations, strap tampers, and other violations. Parole agents are also able to review the movement patterns, or "tracks," of the parolee on a Web mapping application. This information allows parole agents to investigate any unusual or suspicious movements. The second format is the immediate alert (IA) notifications, which are automatically generated text messages sent to the parole agent of record for specific types of high-priority violations. If a parole agent needs to get in contact with a parolee the agent can signal the GPS device worn on the offender to beep or vibrate, signaling to the parolee the need to contact his parole agent.

There are multiple features of the GPS monitoring service that assist the parole agent in monitoring the parolee. Inclusion zones are specific geographic locations that the parolee is required to be in during certain times of the day. Moving out of an inclusion zone would trigger an IA notification. Exclusion zones are geographic locations that a parolee is prohibited from entering. Entering an exclusion zone would also trigger an IA notification.

The typical GPS ankle unit for the HRGO program is a single-piece unit secured to the parolee's left ankle with a tamper-resistant, fiber-optic technology strap. The unit weighs about six ounces and is about the size of a computer mouse. Battery life is about 48 hours per charge. Charging takes about 1 hour. All GPS parole agents are equipped with laptops and wireless Internet cards to allow access to the Web-based services from the field.

Intensive Supervision. The intensive supervision portion of the HRGO program includes frequent contact between the parole agents and parolees. Soon after release from prison, parole agents must meet face-to-face with the parolee and conduct an initial interview. During this first meeting, parole agents are required to inform the parolee of the GPS monitoring as a special condition of parole, and to explain that participation is mandatory and refusal will result in return to prison. As part of the intensive supervision, parole agents must meet at the parolee's residence soon after release, conduct a minimum number of face-to-face contacts monthly, conduct a minimum number of collateral contacts monthly (i.e., acquaintances and family members of the parolee), conduct a minimum number of random drug tests monthly, meet with law enforcement to update parole information a minimum number of times each year, and conduct a case review a minimum number of times each year.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Technical Parole Violation
When Gies and colleagues (2013) looked at the number of technical parole violations, they found that there was no significant difference between the treatment group that was monitored under the High-Risk Gang Offender (HRGO) GPS monitoring program and the control group that was not placed on GPS. Forty-three percent of the control group experienced technical violations, compared with 44 percent of the treatment group. However, when controlling for differences between the groups, the odds of a technical violation were 36 percent greater among the treatment group.

Arrest
The control group experienced significantly more arrests for new offenses (56 percent), compared with the treatment group (47 percent). Overall, the chance of being rearrested was 26 percent lower for the treatment group.

Arrest for a Violent Offense
The control group also experienced significantly more arrests for a violent offense (20 percent), compared with the treatment group (13 percent). Overall, the chance of being rearrested for a violent offense was 32 percent lower for the treatment group.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Gies and colleagues (2013) assessed the cost and effectiveness of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) global positioning system (GPS) monitoring program for High-Risk Gang Offenders (HRGOs). Researchers conducted the assessment using a nonequivalent group quasi-experimental design with a multilevel survival model and propensity score matching to account for differences in treatment and comparison groups.

The study participants were 784 high-risk gang offenders placed on parole in California from March 2006 through October 2009. A propensity score procedure was performed using a sample of parolees drawn from each of the same six communities that maintained specialized gang units but who were not placed on GPS at the time of data collection. The matching procedure resulted in a final sample of 784 subjects (392 treatment and 392 control subjects). The treatment group consisted of parolees who were placed on parole supervision with GPS monitoring in any one of six specialized gang units located throughout California (Fresno County, the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Sacramento County, or San Bernardino County).

Treatment group subjects were parolees—identified as HRGOs by the CDCR, using the GPS Monitoring Gang Eligibility Assessment Criteria Form—who were placed on GPS monitoring during the data collection period. Control group subjects were parolees monitored by the same specialized gang units but were not placed on GPS at the time of data collection. Both groups were subject to traditional parole supervision procedures.

The sample was primarily male (99 percent), Hispanic (58 percent of the control group and 59 percent of the treatment group), and just under 30 years old (mean age of 29.03 for the control group and 28.70 for the treatment group). On average, study participants had been arrested at least 11 times (11.88 for the control group and 11.43 for the treatment group) and had been in prison more than once (62 percent total sample) before the study period.

Data was collected from various sources, including the CDCR data management system, official arrest records, parole supervision records, GPS monitoring data (from two vendors: Satellite Tracking of People [STOP] and Pro Tech), a CDCR parole agent survey, and CDCR cost information. Effectiveness was assessed using an intent-to-treat approach and measured noncompliance (technical violation of parole) and recidivism (arrest for a new crime).
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Cost

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Gies and colleagues (2013) conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation GPS monitoring program for High-Risk Gang Offenders. Overall, the GPS program cost $21.20 a day per parolee, whereas traditional supervision cost $7.20 a day per parolee (a $14.00 difference). After analyzing cost and effectiveness, the researchers found that the GPS program cost $1.49 a day more per parolee than traditional supervision to obtain a 1 percent decrease in arrests.
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Implementation Information

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To participate in the GPS monitoring program, parole agents must be trained by the electronic monitoring unit staff and must complete a specialized GPS training before supervising GPS parolees. For more information on implementation, see the 2013 Gies and colleagues report (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/244164.pdf).

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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1

Gies, Stephen V., Randy Gainey, Marcia I. Cohen, Eoin Healy, Martha Yeide, Alan Bekelman, and Amanda Bobnis. 2013. Monitoring High-Risk Gang Offenders With GPS Technology: An Evaluation of the California Supervision Program. Final Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.


https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/244164.pdf
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Interventions with Violent Adult Male Offenders
This practice comprises interventions with violent adult male offenders that aim to reduce their likelihood of reoffending, especially violent reoffending. Program components include anger control, cognitive skills and empathy training, and relapse prevention. The practice is rated Promising for reducing general reoffending and violent reoffending.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 18+

Gender: Male

Race/Ethnicity: Black, American Indians/Alaska Native, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Rural, Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Correctional, Other Community Setting

Program Type: Alternatives to Incarceration, Gang Prevention/Intervention, Probation/Parole Services, Electronic Monitoring, General deterrence, Specific deterrence

Targeted Population: Gang Members

Current Program Status: Active

Researcher:
Steve Gies
Senior Research Associate
Development Services Group, Inc.
7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 800E
Bethesda MD 20814
Phone: 301.951.0056
Fax: 301.951.3324
Website
Email