Science and Technology News

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News
Trumbull Police Open New Emergency Communications Center
Trumbull Times, (02/10/2016)

The Trumbull Police Department in Connecticut has completed a $1.7-million renovation of the town's Emergency Communications Center. The center was an essential piece of an ongoing radio system upgrade for the police department. The radio system upgrade will provide new radios for each officer and vehicle, and will operate on newer reliable digital technology. The work on the radio system is expected to be completed within the year. 
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Eden Police Implements New Fingerprint Technology
RockinghamNow.com, (02/14/2016), Dallas Britt

Police in Eden, N.C., have a new tool that allows officers to identify individuals in the field. The Mobile Fingerprint Identification, or Finger-ID, is a single-finger scanner that connects to the laptop in a police car. The device requires two fingerprints before it sends the data to a server at the Rockingham County 911 Center and on to the state. The department is training with two devices and expects scanner use to go live soon.
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Lexington Police Offer Safe Place for Internet Buyers, Sellers
ColaDaily, (02/12/2016), Rachel Ham

Police in Lexington, S.C., have created a safe exchange location for people who buy or sell an item online. Buyers and sellers can come to the town's municipal complex to make the transaction. Other law enforcement agencies in the state that offer similar arrangements include the Richland County Sheriff's Department and the Columbia Police Department.
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Elizabeth City Police Prepare for Body Camera Rollout
13NewsNow, (02/10/2016)

A committee has drafted a policy for use of body-worn cameras by police in Elizabeth City, N.C. The committee comprised members representing different agencies, including the District Attorney's office, the Public Defender's Office, the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office and the NAACP. The committee developed a body camera policy based on research documents, best practices recommendations and policies from other law enforcement jurisdictions. The panel also hosted two public forums, conducted a community survey, and reviewed information about nine body-worn cameras that were being tested by the police department, and then recommended one.
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Drones Can Search Forest Trails for Lost People
MicrCap Observer, (02/14/2016, Amy Walsh

Researchers from the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Zurich have developed artificial intelligence software to teach a small quadrocopter to autonomously recognize and follow forest trails. In Switzerland, emergency centers respond to around 1,000 calls annually from injured and lost hikers. The drone used by the Swiss researchers observes the environment through a pair of small cameras. The drone uses artificial-intelligence algorithms to interpret the images to recognize manmade trails. If a trail is visible, the software steers the drone in the corresponding direction. The research team warns that much work is needed before a fully autonomous fleet will be able to swarm forests in search of missing people.
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Corrections News
Drones Pose New Contraband, Smuggling Challenge for Prisons
Associated Press via ABC News, (02/15/2016), Ivan Moreno

States are trying to address the potential of people using drones to deliver contraband to prison yards through preemptive legislation. Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan are among states with pending legislation to criminalize the use of drones over prisons, after smuggling incidents involving drones occurred in several other states. Tennessee is the only state with a law specifically relating to the use of drones over prisons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Under the proposed measure in Wisconsin, anyone who flies a drone over a state correctional institution would face a fine up to $5,000.
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Bill Seeks to Ban Drones From Flying Near Prisons
WTAX News Radio, (02/14/2016)

A bill introduced in the Illinois state senate would ban drones near prisons in an effort to keep the devices from being used to drop packages containing contraband onto prison property. The concern is that inmates will get weapons, drugs and other contraband delivered to them. The bill proposes a punishment of an additional year added to an inmate's sentence if they are caught smuggling in banned goods. The bill would also charge individuals who intentionally fly drones over prisons with a misdemeanor.
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Criminal Justice Alcohol Program Linked to Decreased Mortality
National Institutes of Health, (02/10/2016)

A program that requires offenders convicted of alcohol-related offenses to stop drinking and submit to frequent alcohol testing was linked to a significant reduction in county-level mortality rates in South Dakota. The study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that the 24/7 Sobriety program was associated with a 4.2-percent decrease in all-cause mortality over six years. Under the program, people convicted of an alcohol-related offense must submit to twice-a-day breathalyzer tests or wear a continuous alcohol monitoring bracelet. Any violation carries a swift and modest sanction; people who fail or skip tests immediately receive a short jail term, typically one to two days for a failed test.
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Hogan's Budget Calls for Drone Detection at Maryland Prisons
The Baltimore Sun, (02/15/2016), Erin Cox

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed spending $1 million to install drone detection technology over two high-security prisons in Jessup and Cumberland to prevent people from using drones to drop contraband onto prison property. Last year, authorities caught two men parked outside the Western Maryland prison with a drone and a car full of drugs, pornography, tobacco and a cellphone. Last year, authorities caught drones carrying contraband into at least six prisons across the country.
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Investigators Exclusive: Prison Drone Flyover Reveals Potential Security Threat
WABC-TV, (02/15/2016), Jim Hoffer

A drone flew over the wall of the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York and took video of the yard, several weeks after two inmates escaped from the facility last summer. The drone operator said he was testing his Constitutional rights. The operator was free to go with no penalty because there are no laws restricting drone flights over prisons in New York state.
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New Publication: The State of Sentencing 2015: Developments in Policy and Practice
The Sentencing Project, (02/10/2016)

The State of Sentencing 2015: Developments in Policy and Practice highlights reforms in 30 states that demonstrate a continued trend to reform sentencing policies and scale back the use of imprisonment without compromising public safety. The report provides an overview of recent policy reforms in the areas of sentencing, probation and parole, collateral consequences and juvenile justice.
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FOX25 Uncovers Disturbing Number of Electronic Devices Being Removed
FOX25, (02/15/2016), Blair Miller

About 700 people a year in Massachusetts tamper with or cut off their ankle monitoring devices. The devices help the courts and police track and monitor criminals placed under house arrest or parole. The Massachusetts Probation Services monitors 3,000 offenders who wear electronic devices from its Electronic Monitoring Program headquarters in Clinton. Arrest warrants are immediately issued for violators. A spokesperson for Probation Services told FOX25, "for a significant portion of these individuals, the warrants are resolved the next day in court and they are returned to supervision, so an even smaller portion of the 700 generate a termination of probation supervision. An even smaller number than that remains as open active warrants."
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Report: How Technology Has Stopped 1.77 Million Drunk Drivers
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, (02/10/2016)

In-car breathalyzers, or ignition interlocks, have stopped more than 1.77 million would-be drunk drivers in the U.S. since states first passed ignition inter locks, according to a report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The device will stop a driver from starting a vehicle if alcohol is detected. The report shows how many times ignition interlocks have prevented drunk driving in each of the 50 states. Every state requires ignition interlocks for some drunk driving offenders, but MADD wants all 50 states to require ignition interlocks for all offenders following a drunk driving offense. Twenty-five states currently have all-offender laws.
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