Probation offices using technology to keep up with probationers

CSRA News

Evans, GA (WJBF)- These days you can find an app for just about everything.

Now more and more probation offices are beginning to use the technology to check in with probationers.

CSRA Probation Services, a probation office in Columbia County, has been utilizing an app since 2017 well before the pandemic.

Owner Mike Popplewell said he had the idea to develop his app, Community Supervision, because almost everyone has a smart phone they are always on.

“And I just came up with the idea of developing a smart phone app that would allow people to basically comply with the standard conditions of probation without the necessity of actually coming into the office,” explained Popplewell.

He said his office only sees misdemeanor offenders and that not everyone will qualify to use the app. The app allows users to report, pay their fines and check in with their probation officer.

“There’s so many people that do qualify. People that work. People that don’t have transportation. People that work out of town,” said Popplewell. “And as long as they’re meeting the conditions of Probation, there’s no reason why they can’t report and check in using technology rather than having to come in person.”

Ronald Borders is a former state probation officer who just started working at CSRA Probation Services. He said they didn’t use an app at the State Probation Office and while technology is being used more, it’s slow going. He also said he believes apps, like Community Supervision, are the future of probation offices.

“We live now in a digital age where people have a smartphone and they do almost everything by a smartphone. So I think an app is pretty ingenious if I do say so myself,” Borders said.

Apps like this are being used nationwide.

Critics of the apps say many of them are too invasive because of the use of GPS tracking. They also say it is too easy for probationers to end up in jail for technical violations such as failure to report.

Popplewell said probation officers combat that by sending reminders to probationers.

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