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Smartphone Applications for Community Supervision

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2023
19 pages

This brief explores smartphone applications for community supervision, including their use and implementation in community supervision.


This brief explores smartphone apps and their use in community supervision, explains enabling technologies, discusses functionalities of apps in the context of community supervision, highlights example products, and provides implementation considerations for agencies.  Community supervision, or community corrections, is a broad term used to identify strategies to execute noncustodial sanctions imposed by either a court or a paroling authority. These sanctions are most commonly applied (1) as a form of pretrial release or diversion, (2) postconviction as a term of probation or another alternative to incarceration initiative, or (3) post-incarceration in the form of parole. The agencies responsible for supervising individuals on community supervision often function under constrained resources, and officers typically have high-volume caseloads. Agencies are exploring smartphone-based supervision apps as a way of providing cost-effective and remote monitoring and support services to persons on community supervision. Community supervision apps have a variety of functionalities to support both the individuals on community supervision and supervision officers. The growing use of community supervision apps is driven by the desire to support individuals on community supervision, improvements in technology, the ubiquity of smartphones in society, the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., the need to manage individuals remotely), and the increased desire to offer less stigmatizing methods of location tracking. Apps may include features such as remote reporting and supervision, treatment delivery, location tracking, calendar management and reminders, goal setting, and substance testing, all of which enable accountability, facilitate behavioral change, and support agency objectives to effectively manage cases. When implementing an app, agencies need to identify the app’s target population and determine the agency’s goals.

Date Published: August 1, 2023