INDIANAPOLIS — There's a white machine in lobby near the entrance to the Community Justice Center that quietly does the work of a probation officer.
It is a probation kiosk. Marion County has stationed seven of them stationed around Indianapolis.
"It's a lot easier than having to go see my actual probation officer and set up a meeting and wait and check in that way," said Mikeal Givan, who spoke to WRTV when he visited the machine in the Justice Center.
Givan has been checking in on the kiosks every other month for about four years. He said he is very close to successfully completing his sentence.
"It makes it a lot easier just to be able to go wherever it's convenient for you," Givan said.
Marion County launched its kiosks in 2019. They let low-risk probation clients show they haven't left the state, are paying their fees and following whatever else a judge has ordered without having to meet face-to-face with a probation officer.
The system conducted 7,101 probation visits in 2023, officials said. The kiosks have conducted more than 34,000 check-ins since the program launched in October 2019.
"We're lowering the number of actual clients that our officers see every year by allowing the low-risk people to come in and check in," said Marion Superior Court Judge Angela Davis, who supervises Marion County's probation office.
Kiosk visits take a few minutes to complete. The person enters their information on the touch screen, places a finger on the fingerprint reader and answers a few questions.
Davis said the system is geared towards the folks who are already following the rules and on a path to successfully completing their sentences. These are typically first-time offenders with family support, steady jobs and stable housing, she said.
This frees probation officers to devote more time to others who need more intense scrutiny and supervision.
"It allows the ones that were going to do well anywhere to do well without raising the numbers and having to hire more probation officers," Davis said. "It is a savings both in time and effort for them and in staff for us."
The machine records fingerprints and gets each user on camera to ensure the right person is checking in.
"It's like an ATM without money, but then it emails us to let us know that they checked in," Probation Officer Travis Hodges said. "It does still shots and it does video."
Kiosks are stationed at the Community Justice Center, the City-County Building and in five township offices: Lawrence, Perry, Pike, Wayne and Warren.
The seven machines cost the county $126,000 a year, Marion County Chief Probation Officer Christine Kerl said.
Without them, Kerl said the county would need to hire eight-and-a-half more probation officers, each with an average full-time salary of about $60,000 a year.
The kiosks are so popular with probationers and officers that Kerl said she plans to ask the City-County Council to fund a couple more next year.
"It's far exceeded my expectations," Kerl said. "It's a cost saving measure, because if I didn't have that format of reporting, we're talking 2,400 more cases that I would have to find staff to monitor."
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X/Twitter: @vicryc.