Iowa Mobile App Development Project for Corrections

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the IBR has added a new research project. The Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) has recognized that justice-involved clients in many of their rural counties are not receiving recommended dosages of services. Several factors play a role, including limited or lack of services in many rural areas, and transportation issues getting to services which may be a county or two away.

IDOC has provided funds to design a mobile app to reinforce as well as extend engagement in interventions such as cognitive behavioral approaches, substance abuse recovery tools, trauma, mental health supports, life skills, parenting, and assistance tools that will help reach justice involved clientele where they are and when they need it most in order to assist them in monitoring and managing their own behavior.
The app will be designed to captivate the user, be fun and exciting, and encourage continuous use in an activity that they might not be motivated to participate in otherwise.

Essentially, the product will provide individualized effective interventions in a gamification format to encourage engagement and self-management; ultimately leading to successful behavior change and improved outcomes.A key element of designing an app that will be accepted and utilized by users and will ultimately be sustainable is to involve stakeholder groups in its development.  

Thus, a critical initial phase of the project is to facilitate stakeholder input regarding the mobile application design, the included elements, look and feel of the app, and assure that it meets user needs. Interviews will be held with a cross-section of stakeholders including probation/parole officers, management, staff, and probation/parole clients. This input will be used to develop prototype designs for an app which will be presented to stakeholders for further input before making final revisions.