High-Tech Prisons: Latest Technologies Drive Cost Savings and Staff Efficiencies Technology is an amazing thing, as time goes on everything will soon get easier with automation and technological advances. Prisons and Jails especially are very secure and need very large amounts of attendance. A Prison management team has a lot to deal with on a regular basis due to cell checks, looking over the wardens, following to make sure inmates have a safe stay and are doing what they should be done as well as many other things.
Over the years this has always been something is changing and will continue to change due to the numerous technological advances with electronics. Starting with the first Generation Jails where inmates were kept in a linear design with almost no view of other inmates until the mid-1970’s when the designs changed to podular making things easier on guards. This new design made it easier to watch inmates in cells as well as day rooms and keep the inmate to staff ratio well proportioned.
This was the start of being able to watch most of the inmates from one central location. Following a series of changing came the second generation jails, using the podular design and vast technological advances mad officers with no direct contact with inmates but rather watch electronically from a remote location. This was a very large steeping stone but did not work out due to the low amount of communication as well as interaction with the inmates.
To improve this they then started the third generation jail facilities. This is used a lot of places today and is very efficient because it still uses all of the technology and indirect supervision from the control room, they now have correction officers on the floor and day rooms and in jail giving direct supervision to the inmates. The main thing this article talks about that I will be discussing today is how technology betters a jail from the prison management side of things and I completely agree.
Although the article was written in 2005 being in almost 2012, there has been vast improvement further along which is only being changed for the better In the article the author(s) Jeff Goodale, Dave Menzel and Glen Hodgensen talk much about changes not only on the inside but the outside, an example is non-lethal fencing. In the past neighbor hoods and highways would be clogged with rows and rows of high fences with rows of barbed wire to keep inmates from escaping. Now they have non-lethal fencing which can stun a prison in the cross a fencing similar to an invisible dog cage.
Not only does the make the prisons look nice but also cuts down drastic on cost and contribute to better safety being the fence stuns the men even I they do get past they won’t be able to move. Also as time is going on things are getting much cheaper, and very good example in the article is the cost of camera, stated “the price of video systems has come down as much as 40 percent due to the decreases in cost of hardware. A 1,000 bed system that once cost $750,000 may now cost less than $500,000. ” Being that the article was from 2005, seeing as how far we have gone today this is only truer.
This also helps the prisons because while it’s cutting costs drastically and only making the prisons more secure, now the opportunity opens to hire more corrections offers for the direct supervision side and makes it’s a safer environment as well. This safety from security cameras also goes hand in hand with visitation. In the article the authors used the Illinois Department of corrections as an example but as this can happen anywhere, surveillance cameras make it possible to go back and track who that person visited to see what contra band they brought with them.
Now while there is good there is also bad. The authors are saying that at facilities where camera do work to help solve and watch inmates, sometimes the officers think too much of a good thing have nearly double the cameras of what they need and soon become understaffed due to cameras. I personally do not agree with the authors when they say that, although this does make sense. One or two more operators of the camera room could be a lot more beneficial than half the amount of cameras and 2 more correction officers in the field.
Although I do see where a prison might get to accustomed to everything being electrically controlled this can be a major issue which is why the prisons went away from this model of second generation indirect super vision, as cameras cannot catch everything due to angles and ability to “block out” view by forming human walls or placing something in front of the lenses. Overall most of this could be avoided with correction officers in direct supervision as well as key placement of the cameras to high corners which have a clear over view and over lapping view of each other to catch all angels.
Telemedicine and Visual Court rooms are also coming into play in this article but are also used now. Visual Court room can and does cut cost down greatly and also make things speedier. Between the maintenance, man power, time and even escapes from inmates being let out is huge. Now instead of spending money on bus’s to the court house and the risk of escape everything could be in court house and also be a much speedier trial, which also cuts down cost in effect. Telemedicine is another thing similar to the video court room, but a doctor’s visit. Medicine can be prescribed as well as give help like psychological, or mental.
While having issues with video quality for bot h now almost 7 years after the article has been made these issues have been cleared up and the technological advances are not only helping on but also cutting down costs drastically which in turn can create for jobs and make things more efficient. Smart cards are also an innovative product used within jails to know who entered what when. This is a lot better than a keyed system because not only can it let an inmate into an area and know when he was there in case of a fight or another legal reason but it also can keep track in case of going into a restricted area.
This is good to know if an inmate is trying to go in an area when time is not allowed in or that someone he cannot be near is in. Also you would be able to store important information on cars like medical history, reason for being in etc. Cards are a way of the future, and can help but a down side would be that an inmate can use someone else’s card if it were only to rely on the swipe of the card. Many other forms of verification like finger print san or retina match are costly but might be worth it if prisons and jails go towards this way.
Also further on electronics when an inmate or the entire prison is going through a cell check they can instantly electronically shut off water causing them to not get rid of contra band. This is a big problem in jail that technology like cameras as stated earlier can help stop. Technology is an amazing thing and although many people are afraid of it I fell it can only help when dealing with high security locations like prisons. I agree with the authors of the article that there are many more positives to the new technological advances in a prison.
Everything from surveillance rooms having better control of areas with touch screen capacities to electrically control cell doors, and what doors can be open to using the smart key card idea to open doors for inmates. All of these things are very god and go hand in hand with keep the cost down in the prison management. Allowing costs to be cut is a great deal even today as many departs are doing it and keeping everyone safe is main priority. While many prisons would be hesitant to shell out the extra money up front it would cut the cost later.
Not only on the inside but electronic fences are a great addition to the exterior of prisons. This is a great new invention that can stun the inmates non lethally and also looks much better in more densely populated areas. Overall technology is a an inevitable thing for the future and I feel that this article as well as many other articles prove time and time again that it can lead to safer operations. While the costs are high for the initial it will keep maintenance cost low and keeps both the correction officers and inmates safe.
When dealing with high risk inmate escort you can save cost for transportation by having an in facility visual court hearing. Also when an inmate is chronically ill Telemedicine can take care of a large quantity of inmates in a small amount of time. While there are always going to be limitations to security as far as camera angels and number of cameras, we will always have a direct supervision approach and I feel that the third generation jail is best suited. Electronics will never rule out the correction officer but only make his job safer and more efficient.