Technology Helps Law Enforcement Boost Security in Prisons
Back in 1982, the number of inmates in the U.S. prison population topped off at 385,343. By the end of 2013, the inmate population in the U.S. was nearly 1.6 million people, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. These numbers reflect prisoner counts exclusively in state and federal prisons—not including local jails.
A variety of factors have contributed to the country’s inmate explosion, one that has saddled law enforcement with enormous security challenges.
To help law enforcement agencies address these extreme security challenges, the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Office of Science and Technology (OST) in December, 2014 executed a correctional technology program focused on the needs of jails and prisons, and established the following criteria for applicable technology:
• The technology must meet a clearly defined need.
• The technology must be affordable, reliable, and easy to install and maintain.
The swell of prisoners in U.S. jails and prisons has led to a logistical nightmare for law enforcement on many levels, not the least of which is during inmate visiting hours. Families and friends of inmates arrive in droves, many having driven from all over the country, and prison staff must get through the laborious and time-consuming task of identifying each individual visitor, confirm their visitation eligibility, pack them into to limited facility space, control inmate movement and prevent visitor-to-inmate contraband exchanges. The need for law enforcement to identify so many visitors entering and leaving the jail or prison, not to mention outside vendors and contractors arriving and departing, creates major security concerns.
Using a law enforcement access management system such as iVisitor Law Enforcement Visitor Management by Veristream, built for local and major law enforcement systems alike, the risks can be greatly—if not entirely reduced or eliminated. Every visitor who is identified through an access management system can be easily tracked at every facility, and a detailed report can be quickly generated. Images of visitors are captured as they enter, and are automatically compared against existing visitors lists, watch lists or criminal databases, allowing law enforcement agencies to stay compliant with local and federal standards. Visitation badges can be printed instantly to identify visitors and the inmates they’re visiting, as well as vendors and contractors.
Integrating Access Management with Biometric Identification Systems.
Another technology area identified in the correctional technology program that is already emerging rapidly in the private sector with great potential for jail and prison applications is biometrics. Biometrics uses automated techniques for recognizing a person based on physiological or behavioral characteristics, including facial imaging and fingerprints, retina and iris scans, hand/finger geometry and voice recognition. Biometric recognition and access management technology can greatly reduce security risks and speed up the identification and verification process by combining to identify individuals from the entire population by searching a database for a match. The biometric system authenticates the individual’s claimed identity from his or her previously enrolled pattern, or from information contained in a database.
By creating multiple levels of access, law enforcement can more easily and efficiently keep unauthorized visitors and employees out of areas they’re not authorized to be in, such as administrative areas, supply rooms, high security wings—virtually any areas that are deemed off-limits.
Access management and biometrics technology is affordable and can readily work with law enforcement budgets; they quickly reduce costs associated with manual identification processes, reduce or eliminate security risks, and improve productivity. They also integrate easily with advanced surveillance systems.
Access management and biometrics are powerful tools for law enforcement to apply to inmate management as well, to improve the control of inmate movement and accountability within a correctional facility. Law enforcement, working with a security specialist like Veristream can develop a customized system to accurately record, monitor and track inmates from booking to release and beyond, during community control periods pre- and post-incarceration. It can also accommodate jail and prison administrators by automatically scheduling and identifying potential problems by alerting staff to an inmate’s whereabouts.
Combining access management technology with biometric technology, law enforcement agencies can vastly improve security at correctional facilities, reduce tasks and free up law enforcement personnel to perform other duties.