Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
New Smartphone App Lets You Tip-off Syracuse Police
WRVO, (01/01/2016), Ellen Abbott

SPD Tips, a smartphone app for both Apple and Android phones, allows citizens to anonymously contact the Syracuse (N.Y.) Police Department. The department launched the app as a companion to the tips link on its website because so many people use smartphone texting as their preferred method of communication. Link to Article

U.S. Airports to Roll Out Facial-Recognition Software to Catch Fake Passports
Washington Times, (01/21/2016), Andrea Noble
U.S. Customs and Border Protection began a phased roll-out this week of facial recognition software to help verify the identity of travelers entering the United States. CBP began using the software at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, and the technology will be implemented at all international airports in the country in the near future. U.S. citizens returning to the country and first-time visitors from the 38 countries allowed to enter the United States without a visa will be photographed and run through the system.
Link to Article

Pittsburgh Police Praise ShotSpotter; City May Extend Contract, Expand System
Pittsburgh Tribune, (01/26/2016), Bob Bauder

The Pittsburgh City Council recently introduced legislation for a one-year extension to its contract with the company that provides its gunshot detection equipment and services. A city official said the technology has directed police to shooting scenes and helped them apprehend suspects. Its picks up and identifies gunfire within a three-mile radius.
Link to Article

Corrections News
Technology Could Help Fight Cell Phone Use in AL Prisons, (01/21/2016), Hannah Lane

The Alabama Department of Corrections has requested budgetary funding to install managed access systems throughout the state's correctional facilities in order to prevent contraband cell phones from sending and receiving calls and text messages. The estimated cost is $1 million per facility, but could result in a cost savings by reducing the need for physical searches for cell phones. The technology has been in use in Mississippi since 2010, where it has seen good success.
Link to Article

State Prisons Turn to Telemedicine to Improve Health and Save Money
Government Technology, (01/21/2016), Michael Ollove

More states continue to implement the use of telemedicine to treat some correctional inmates because it keeps them from having to transport potentially dangerous prisoners outside the facilities; also, more doctors are willing to treat correctional patients using telemedicine. The result is increased access to better health care for prisoners and decreased medical costs for the state.
Link to Article

Free Computers for Inmates? It's Latest Deal at Sacramento County Jail
Sacramento Bee, (1/18/2016), Sam Stanton

Inmates in the Sacramento County Main Jail can participate in a pilot program to use tablet computers to take GED, parenting and domestic violence prevention classes. If they earn enough points from studying, they can also watch preapproved movies and listen to music. The county hopes to expand the program beyond the 40 pilot tablets to a total of 500. Funds from commissary and other inmate purchases are paying for the devices.
Link to Article

Feds Indict 51 in South Georgia Prison Cellphone Scam
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (01/21/2016), Bill Rankin

In Georgia, prosecutors have returned 13 indictments that charge 51 people with being part of a fraud and money laundering scheme run from inside Autry State Prison. Those indicted include 15 current or former inmates and 19 former prison officials. Inmates allegedly used contraband cell phones to carry out the scheme.
Link to Article

N.J. Court Upholds Lie Detector Tests for Sex Offenders, (01/22/2016), S.P. Sullivan

A New Jersey appeals court has upheld the state parole board's using polygraph tests to monitor sex offenders who are no longer in prison. Five convicted sex offenders whose sentences included lifetime supervision had filed suit arguing that use of the tests amounted to coerced interrogation and violated their constitutional rights. The court did find that the test results alone could not be used to justify punishment and the state must protect the offenders' right against self-incrimination.
Link to Article

You've Got Mail: The Promise of Cyber Communication in Prisons and the Need for Regulation
Prison Policy Initiative, (01/12/2016), Stephen Raher

As prisons look into and begin adopting new technologies such as video visitation and electronic messaging for prisoners, there are concerns that adopting these new technologies will become yet another way to generate revenue from inmates and their families, similar to the issues that surround telephone services in correctional facilities. Such a focus may choke off potential ways to improve quality of life for incarcerated persons and their families. In this article, an in-depth analysis of existing and emerging technologies yields recommendations about how to handle communication among inmates and their families going forward.
Link to Article

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