One key to solving Alabama's prison crisis could lie in artificial intelligence. The University of Alabama in Huntsville is leading the charge.
The artificial intelligence technology would be used through an app. Parolees would be required to download it, and it would give resources to the parolee and parole officer.
The man behind this idea believes it is his way of serving a community he has once dealt with.
"For me, this project is very personal, because I have volunteered before at homeless shelters," Assistant Professor Tathagata Mukherjee said. "I've seen people who have been to prisons, and I've seen how their families are devastated."
Mukherjee said when he learned the university, Florida State and Purdue University would be given $1.9 million to build this AI system, he felt this was his opportunity to make a difference.
"It may not be right now, but maybe five years down the line, we'll have a system that can at least help people to better integrate into society," Mukherjee said.
The app would be developed by graduate students. It would allow parole officers to track parolees in real time, and spot any suspicious activity. It would also be a place for parolees to start over.
"The app is not only for 24-hour tracking and having an eye on them all the time," Mukherjee said. "But, it's also for helping them, better assimilating into society going forward."
One example he explains is an online job bank. It would list available jobs tailored to that parolee based on qualifications and experience.
It is a four-year project, developing the app, then testing it with various agencies. Mukherjee believes it will better the lives of law enforcement and people just trying to start over.
"I think everyone should get a second chance," Mukherjee said.
Right now, only Indiana's Department of Corrections is partnering to test out the app. The goal is to get Alabama and Florida involved as well. We reached out to the Alabama Department of Corrections and are waiting to hear back.