ImpactAlpha, June 30 – Nearly 350,000 people return to prison in the U.S. each year because of violations of exhaustive parole and probation requirements. The system “sets people up to fail,” according to the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative. Maine-based Reconnect aims to reduce people’s odds of failure by streamlining monitoring and compliance of parole requirements and court orders for people awaiting trial.
The platform handles curfew checks, video check-ins with case workers, random testing reminders and other court or parole requirements, all from a smartphone. It’s an upgrade from outdated and expensive ankle monitors, which most users have to pay for. Reconnect is piloting a smartphone rental service to keep equipment costs down for users.
Its solution is also meant to let caseworkers and parole officers focus more on rehabilitation efforts than administrative tasks.
Reconnect does not purport to be a systemic fix, but it’s helping improve the odds of rehabilitation, explained Eric Chapman of SustainVC, which backed the company’s funding round. Added SustainVC’s Jazmine da Costa: “This was a tricky investment to look at because it’s operating in a larger system that’s designed to make people fail. But there are people within the system who are really trying to help.”
Reconnect produced a video series earlier this year of individuals sharing their struggles with the U.S. criminal justice system, which included an interview with Rayshard Brooks, who was killed by Atlanta police on June 12.