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Between iPhone facial recognition and Amazon drone delivery, it seems there isn’t a task that technology can’t tackle. The era of electronics has officially dawned on us, and it’s imperative to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing and advancing tech world. Although many industries have managed to board the “tech-train,” part of our society is still technologically stranded.

To be precise, many of our nation’s jails and prisons have failed to capitalize on correctional technology. Although overcoming this nationwide lapse remains a work in progress, some individual facilities have positioned themselves as early-adopters of innovation. To the amazement of everyone else, the jail administrators in charge of these facilities are redefining how modern correctional institutions use technology.

Trend Setters

In recent years, some facilities have employed correctional technology to change the way they run their prisons. From inmate tablets, to RFID wristbands, to infrared body temperature monitoring, these facilities are way ahead of the game in terms of testing innovative solutions. These technologies aren’t just for show, either.

According to an article written by Melissa Mann, the benefits of providing tablets to inmates include increased officer safety, improved inmate behavior and extra revenue for the facility. Sure, the idea of gifting pricey electronic tablet devices to incarcerated individuals may initially seem preposterous.

Why should we spend more money on prisons and those who inhabit them? One answer is that the immense potential to change inmate behavior in a positive manner justifies the investment. Not to mention that the amount of money spent on this technology is minuscule in comparison to the money the correctional facilities, the state, and society as a whole will save in the long run.

One of the few agencies that have adopted this approach is Canyon County, Idaho. Their facility made 10 tablets open for inmate use, with the option to research legal matters on the devices for free, as well as paid access to videos, messaging and games (on a per-minute rate).

Santa Cruz County, California has followed suit and implemented a tablet testing trial with some success. Melissa Mann’s article brought up the fact that “studies show education decreases recidivism rates about 43 percent, so the utilization of free time for educational purposes shouldn’t be a difficult choice for jail administrators when deciding daily schedules for their facilities.” These technologies correct unwanted behavior, and even prepare inmates for life on the outside.

A More Productive Prison

The potential for correctional technology is vast. For instance, look at the positive impact that RFID wristbands could have on correctional facilities and staff. These wristbands can be used as a tracking system, allowing officers to monitor inmates and even alleviate and prevent troublesome situations. This innovative approach has already been implemented in correctional facilities in California, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota.

Minnesota Department of Corrections assistant commissioner David Crist had the following to say regarding this technology’s impact on security at his facility: “Because they have no secure fence around their living area — because it’s minimum security — they have the opportunity to leave illegally if they choose to, and we want to prevent that from happening.” Another benefit of this system is how it simplifies the investigation process. Computers linked to the RFID system can locate exactly where an inmate is or was, eliminating the need to rely on unreliable witnesses.

RFID technology is pretty impressive, right? Well, prepare for the potential of infrared body temperature monitoring to further astound you. Due to the shortcomings of traditional facility monitoring systems, some correctional facilities have explored the idea of monitoring the physical presence of inmates to detect and predict behavior.

According to research by the DSTA Horizons, these Infrared Fever Screening Systems (IFss) are being employed in many different areas, and are “designed from a total system engineering perspective, i.e. taking into consideration thermal imager specifications, human body and skin temperature physiology, human traffic flow and environmental conditions.” Talk about a technology that does it all! This type of equipment would prove especially useful in correctional facilities to track inmate motion, specifically at night when your typical security camera may have a hard time creating a clear picture.

Correctional Technology Conclusions

In our world of smart cars and smart phones, it’s important that we extract everything we can from our electronic infrastructure. The benefits of correctional technology increase by the day and are proving more and more valuable, as many facilities are beginning to find. As these solutions improve, there will come a time when these optional facility upgrades are no longer optional.

Is your facility prepared for the modern age of corrections?