Collaborative Design Approach

Impactful and ethical design is collaborative. When tools are built without insight from people who will use or be affected by them, the result is often tech that doesn’t solve the problem, is unusable, or in the worst case could even harm the people we intend to help. Modern approaches to designing tech consider the needs of people impacted by it, incorporating real-world experience and reducing bias to ensure the end result improves outcomes and achieves intended results. 

At Recidiviz, we build technology in partnership with the people who run and are impacted by the criminal justice system. Our research and product teams collaborate with hundreds of people who have experienced parole and probation. By understanding their perspectives, sharing early designs, and getting feedback on prototypes, the team is able to quickly build technology that is both more useful and leads to meaningful progress on systemic problems.

There are several questions we ask when designing technology collaboratively, including: 

  • How will this impact incarcerated people, staff, and agency leadership? 
  • Are the collaborators representative of those we intend to help? 
  • How are we tracking outcomes to ensure effectiveness?
  • Are there potential side-effects of this tool that could undermine equity?
  • How are we incorporating user feedback on an ongoing basis?

It's important to include the voices of those directly impacted by incarceration; unfortunately, it's not something that is commonly practiced, but one of the most important components to create a supervision experience that is more conducive towards an overall successful reentry and life beyond.


Sr. Program Manager, currently on parole, Bronx, NY

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