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'Recidiviz' Says 250,000 Might Win Earlier Prison, Parole Release

Few people who about someone “stuck in prison” are likely to wonder how a data system could have let that happen. A shockingly large number of people are held in confinement or on parole because disjointed data makes it hard to see when they meet terms for release, reports Governing.

When Clementine Jacoby was a product manager at Google, she could spend 20 percent of her time on a project that interested her.

When she was a child, her teenage uncle was given a 10-year prison term for a nonviolent offense. She saw him struggle, and fail, to make it out of the corrections system. She realized something was missing that could be game-changing: the software engineering and data science expertise that keeps the tech sector ahead.

Jacoby now leads a nonprofit, Recidiviz, that grew out of her 20 percent project. She co-founded Recidiviz in 2019 with Google collaborators. It has helped 70,000 people make it out of corrections systems and back to their families and communities.

Recidiviz works in 11 states that account for 25 percent of people in prison or parole. Jacoby estimates there are as many as 250,000 people who could be accelerated toward freedom.

“These could be people who are in prison today who are eligible to serve the rest of their sentence at home,” says Jacoby. “They could be people who are eligible to earn a lot of time off of their sentence with programs that are available, but that they don't know about.”

Recidiviz has a team of engineers and data analysts who have left tech companies such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook to help state corrections departments make the best possible use of their energy and resources.

Software tools can yield real-time insights into such things as the success of individual prison rehabilitation programs, how many parolees under the supervision of each parole officer make it to discharge, or the conditions that remain to be met for a prisoner or parolee to earn release. This is all available through dashboards.


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