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Communications of the ACM

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Criminology, Computer Science Researchers Developing Next-Gen Electronic Monitoring


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monitoring persons, illustration

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Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell are developing Behavioral Economics Application with Correctional Opportunities Notification (BEACON), an electronic monitoring system that uses smartphones, sensor technology, and global positioning system (GPS) tracking to promote and reward constructive behaviors that can keep people on probation out of jail. BEACON is based on studies showing rewarding positive actions can bolster success on probation by promoting behavioral change instead of focusing on negative behavior and punishment.

As part of the project, the researchers will interview ex-offenders who have completed probation about what helped them succeed, as well as police officers, probation officers, and substance abuse treatment professionals to determine which strategies make the most sense to pursue. They then will incorporate those strategies into a smartphone app or suite of apps, leveraging existing GPS functionality and emerging technologies.

The goal is to divert those under community supervision before they get locked in a cycle of crime, imprisonment, and recidivism.

From University of Massachusetts Lowell 
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