Overcoming language barriers in the criminal justice system: can language assistance technology help

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Title: Overcoming language barriers in the criminal justice system: can language assistance technology help
País: United States
Idioma: English
Fuente: Fuente: Vera Institute of JusticeFuente: Vera Institute of Justice
Reseña: In order to do their jobs safely and effectively, criminal justice personnel must be able to communicate with the people they serve. Yet, as a result of dramatic shifts in the demographics of immigration since the early 1990s, many criminal justice agencies are finding they are ill-equipped to communicate with growing numbers of people in their jurisdictions who do not speak English well. Criminal justice administrators are increasingly looking for creative and cost-effective ways to bridge this language gap. One promising solution is to invest in “language assistance technology”—computer and networking technology that can ease communication among individuals who do not share a common language. To explore the possible uses of language assistance technology in New York’s criminal justice system, Translating Justice invited a group of civic and government leaders to participate in a roundtable discussion at the Institute’s New York office. This paper summarizes that discussion. The roundtable began with demonstrations of several language assistance technologies by developers and law enforcement personnel who had tested these technologies in the field. Roundtable participants then discussed how their own organizations might use these technologies. They also spoke about potential drawbacks, methods of field-testing the various technologies, ways to secure funding for them, and next steps for officials who are interested in acquiring and using language assistance technology. Roundtable participants agreed that language assistance technology can be an effective tool for addressing some language barriers. Although the technology for two-way handheld devices is still in the developmental phase, one-way handheld devices and remote simultaneous interpreting technology appear to be useful, depending on the circumstances. The latter are more appropriate in situations that do not require discourse, such as crowd control. The former may be more effective in situations that call for back-and-forth discussion, such as a parole board hearing. Participants also believed that criminal justice organizations could benefit from more interagency dialogue about language assistance issues and the uses of technology in addressing these issues. While the roundtable focused on the particular needs of criminal justice professionals in New York City, this publication aims to serve a broader audience as well. In surveying a range of technologies and providing information about the circumstances in which they work best, it seeks to provide justice officials across the nation with the information they need to make better informed decisions about language assistance technology.

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