County Jails Unlock the Secret to Fewer Calls

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Spanish speakers merely need to press a button to be served in Spanish.That's significant since the county, which has about 500,000 residents, is experiencing rapid growth in its Latino population.

Callers requiring further assistance can still be transferred to deputies for more detailed information or questions not answered by the AIS system, but so far, automation has decreased calls to the command center by 72 percent. In 2013, the average number of calls coming into Stanislaus County jails was 428 per day, and of those, 308 were handled by the automated system.

Effectively offloading all those calls has enabled deputies to better concentrate on their primary duties. According to Blake, immediately after the Telerus system went live, deputies thought the phones were broken because the volume of calls dropped off so suddenly.

The AIS system is available 24/7 and works seamlessly with any jail management system and phone system. Other features include 24/7 data validation and caller traffic monitoring, access to real-time reporting on caller usage and transfer patterns via a Web portal, unlimited voice-file revisions, and capacity for thousands of simultaneous calls. Jails can even customize scripts and menu trees with facility-specific information, including directions, policies for sending mail or money to inmates, inmate telephone usage, visitation, property storage, and frequently requested phone numbers, if needed.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department also offers an online "In Custody Report" that provides information on people in custody. Reports are updated approximately every 10 minutes. That, too, has led to decreased call volumes, according to Christianson.

"We want people to be able to get information about their family members and friends in our custody," he says.

But the system also had to be economical. Telerus' AIS system comes with no setup fees; instead, monthly fees are based on average daily jail population. No long-term contracts are required, and there's no hardware or software to install on site; everything is configured from the cloud, and everything required to operate the technology is hosted in a data center.

The system also works off a centralized server farm that allocates resources and costs across numerous facilities instead of just one.

"We needed to strike a balance between getting the community the information they need and cost-effective resource allocation," Christianson says. "We're always looking for operational efficiencies, things to help us do our jobs more efficiently without reducing our accessibility to the community."

Telerus, he adds, gives the department both, which helped it get through a recent round of severe budget cuts.

Blake has been working closely with Telerus to develop improvements and build new features into the AIS system. One such tweak involved developing a feature to confirm which friends and family are on the list of approved visitors for each inmate.

"Our partnerships with jails are ongoing relationships," said Ted Radey, CEO of Telerus, in a statement. "Software-as-a-service is never really done, per se, and we are always talking about ways to increase the value facilities and citizens receive from AIS."

In the meantime, Christianson says he is "a very satisfied Telerus customer.

"We did not have anything like this before," he adds. "It's great technology that has worked out very well for us."

App at a Glance

Since going live with the Telerus AIS system, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department has seen:

  • a 72 percent reduction in the number of calls handled by deputy sheriffs;
  • 308 out of 428 calls that come in daily handled by automation; and
  • all calls answered within 3 rings.

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