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North Carolina, Researchers to Study Recidivism-Reducing App

The state Department of Public Safety and RTI International have received a grant to test out the Pokket app and measure its effects on people re-entering society from five incarceration institutions.

An app that aims to reduce recidivism among people re-entering society after incarceration is entering into a study to measure its effectiveness.

With funding from the National Institute of Justice, the nonprofit North Carolina research institute RTI International will investigate how well the Pokket app helps prevent people from re-entering prison after they’ve been released.

The study will focus on the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s use of the app in five facilities. The department already has a Re-entry Strategic Transition Engagement Plan (R-STEP) in place to reduce recidivism.

“This study will provide the first empirical test of the effectiveness and cost savings of Pokket,” said Christine Lindquist, a program director at RTI International and the study’s principal investigator. “The results of this research will help corrections agencies around the country, many of whom are looking for technological solutions to assist with re-entry planning and facilitate information-sharing among corrections stakeholders, make informed decisions about which solutions to consider.”

The company behind the app, Acivilate, has taken a research-focused approach in developing its product. Before North Carolina, it worked with Kennesaw State University in Georgia to study a county’s use of the app.

One of the core concepts in the app is that people re-entering society are obligated to meet many requirements and become involved in many different programs, so technology can help coordinate these services.

“Pokket assists in the de-institutionalization process by implementing educative principles to gradually transfer autonomy and agency to returning citizens, so they can manage their own lives,” said Acivilate CEO Louise Wasilewski. “We are pleased to be the subject of this vigorous, independent study on the efficacy of this technology. With Pokket, we know we have the potential to make an enormous impact on recidivism rates and successful re-entry.”

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.