Morgan County: Connected Successes
July 28, 2022 by
Police officers vow to serve and protect the people of their communities, patrolling their assigned areas for suspicious activity and enforcing the law. While this is one side of the law, the other side — jail and correction, often gets forgotten as part of that protection. What happens when an officer sees suspicious activity, an arrest is made, and an individual is put in jail? Will the individual eventually return to criminal behavior on the outside upon release? Or are they provided the tools to end recidivism before it begins, while in jail?
“While they’re in our facility, we want to make them better humans, to give them access to the outside world,” explains Lieutenant Richard Moats of Morgan County Alabama Jail. “So when they get out, they don’t come back. That’s what we want; we don’t want a lot of people in our jail.”
Increased Communication and Rehabilitation
Access to the outside world is expanded and easier than ever with the new era of technology entering facilities, bringing the outside world inside, ultimately preparing residents for success upon re-entry. Resident Resources provides several tools for the nearly 650 residents in Morgan County to stay connected. Video visitations allow remote face-to-face interactions with family and friends. Moats credits virtual interaction in helping boost resident morale both during and after the pandemic and for providing peace of mind to loved ones on the outside, knowing family members inside the facility are being taken care of and not mistreated.
Recently, Morgan County, a Resident Resources client since 2017, introduced handheld tablets to multiple housing units within the facility. Tablets offer a sense of freedom from the static kiosks affixed to a cement wall, providing mobile convenience to conduct day-to-day tasks like filling out grievances or commissary ordering. Residents gain a sense of normalcy to use modern tools from the outside world while administrators and officers are more available to the population with minimal impact or overhead.
With new technology that better serves residents and facilities, the possibilities for setting residents up for success and reducing recidivism rates are endless. The COVID-19 pandemic was a wakeup call for jails nationwide, and Moats encourages others to follow suit to meet modern expectations.
“Now jails have to move into the technology side of the world not only for security and safety, but also to provide access to [residents].”
More Efficient Operations
While Morgan County’s integration did not happen overnight, the journey with each Resident Resource feature resulted in several benefits for all involved, increasing efficiency and enhancing business operations. The facility is now paperless, and officers have greater monitoring abilities, even preventing two escape attempts thanks to the keyword recognition built into the new software.
Continued success on the support side further helped Morgan County navigate new processes. Tyler Technologies staff were on site during the initial setup and active in answering calls with questions at all hours of the day, providing “more of a family than a business relationship,” according to Moats.
The family-feel of a community is prominent and valued across Morgan County, having a population of less than half a million. It may seem small in population, but the collective goals and values of the people are mighty. Law enforcement on the inside of jails equally vow to protect and serve as much as those on the outside, and the officers of Morgan County strive to uphold these principles in every way possible. By applying Resident Resources tools to the jail, security is improved, operations are streamlined, and residents receive increased communication access. Continued integration and connectivity can propel other facilities in the state and nationwide to grow these systems for generations to come. The opportunity new technology offers to residents and facility systems are reforming the re-entry process and empowering individuals for success upon release while keeping the entire community safe. Efforts to reduce recidivism matters to the community, the facility, and the individual to create peace of mind for all parties involved.