During the summer, Summit County implemented a program that helps low-risk offenders who are on probation finish their sentence and become productive citizens.
If you walked into many municipal buildings in Summit County over the past few months, including the Barberton Municipal Building, you may have seen a blue box with a keyboard attached to it.
What you’re seeing is a Summit County Adult Probation kiosk, and plans are already in the works for expansion to help low-risk offenders finish their probation sentence.
Terry Strubbe, supervisor for the Summit County Probation Department says that when someone walks up to the interactive machine, it provides step-by step instructions as a time-saving measure.
“It’s going to ask the offender for a user name, password, fingerprint, and then asks the person approximately five questions and then it calculates the next report date for them so they know when to come in or when to report to the kiosk,” Strubbe says.
Clint Spencer, Sr. adult probation officer and kiosk officer says that the program is designed for the offenders to complete their probation sentence without it interfering with work.
“It’s a reward for those low-risk individuals with work schedules who are doing well in their probation to come in during traditional and non-traditional hours and complete their probation by answering a few simple questions,” Spencer said.
“If you work during the day, you can come in during the evening and fill out your information, or vice versa.”
There are currently four kiosks in Summit County, with Barberton and Akron police departments having one apiece, one at the Stow Municipal Court Building, and the fourth located at the Urban Ounce of Prevention Services office on South Hawkins Street in West Akron.
The program will not replace traditional probation officers, but it allows them more time to work with those who are more of a risk to society and help get them on the right path.
“It’s been a successful program thus far. It gives our low-risk and first time offenders a chance to report to the kiosks and complete their probation while having our higher-risk individuals share more one-on- one time with their probation officer,” says supervisor Doug Elliott.
There are more than 300 people in Summit County reporting to the kiosks since the program was started in late August.
The county plans on making more kiosks available for people, according to Strubbe.
“We’re just starting with this program. We haven’t determined where it’s going to go, but we strategically put them in places that are convenient for those we serve,” Strubbe says.
“Our primary goal is to give people every opportunity to prove they can be a productive member of society.”