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Community Supervision in a Digital World

The changing nature of crime, along with an increase in digital literacy among the general population, has resulted in a greater number of tech-savvy individuals under community supervision. This presents unique challenges and opportunities for supervision agencies. A complete ban on supervisee access to technology is generally not justifiable (or practical) except in the most severe circumstances. Therefore, agencies must assess and manage the risk to public safety from supervisees' technology use. Managing an individual's digital activities not only can deter and detect new crimes but also can help officers identify problematic behaviors, allowing them the opportunity to intervene before a negative outcome occurs. Despite the increasing need to effectively manage supervisees' virtual presence, many agencies struggle with this imperative. To examine this issue, the National Institute of Justice, supported by the RAND Corporation in partnership with the University of Denver, hosted a virtual workshop in June 2020 to discuss the challenges related to supervising individuals in an increasingly digital world. The participants identified a list of 23 needs related to providing community supervision services in a digital world, 13 of which were ranked as high priority. These needs were sorted into the five categories of organizational issues, tools and training, policy and practice, legal and privacy concerns, and research.

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