Parole Board Begins Pilot Program to Remotely Monitor Sex Offender’s Computer Use

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole Chairman Michael C. Potteiger has announced a pilot program with Securus software to monitor computer usage of sex offenders who are under parole supervision.

“The board is increasing public safety by testing software that will allow parole agents to know when a sex offender may be engaging in inappropriate behavior,” Potteiger said. “The technology monitors words and phrases, both online and offline, on an offender’s home computer, captures a screen image, creates a log of all websites visited and saves this information on a central server.”

Currently, offenders are either not allowed computer use or agents must physically go onto the offender’s computer to review Internet usage. Through Securus, parole agents will be able to log into the secure server from any computer to view screen shots of emails, chat rooms, games and social media sites, review websites that have been accessed and to be informed of programs that have been installed on an offender’s computer.

“The new software is designed to send the board alerts about behavior that may indicate a risk to re-offend,” Potteiger explained. “The software provides for a more effective use of a parole agent’s time through remote access of information that is automatically gathered through electronic means.”

The pilot program will include 20 to 30 sex offenders over a period of six months in the board’s Pittsburgh District Office.

This new initiative continues the board’s efforts to improve the supervision of sex offenders.  Under the amendments toPennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration Law, which brings Pennsylvania into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act, the board registered more than 300 offenders who were not required to register under the previous law and updated the registrations of 1,486 offenders by adding the additional information required by the new law.

In addition, the board recently worked with the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board and JNET to provide county probation offices with direct electronic access to sex offender assessments. The assessments contain valuable information regarding an offender’s likelihood of re-offending, such as whether the offense was a single event or part of a series, whether the offender targets children, youth, or adults, and what treatment the offender has received up to the date of the evaluation.

For more information about the board, visit www.pbpp.state.pa.us.

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