Science and Technology News

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News
Drone Will Soon Assist Search-and-Rescue Efforts
Argus Leader, (05/09/2016), Katie Nelson

The Lincoln County Emergency Management Department in South Dakota has ordered an unmanned aircraft system to assist with search-and-rescue missions, and will share it with other law enforcement agencies in the area. The remote-controlled device will be able to capture photos and video from overhead and produce thermal imaging scans to help find people in the dark. Once the device is delivered, it will take several weeks to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration and train employees, including Lincoln County sheriff's deputies, on how to use it.
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New Emergency Communications Tower Eliminates Dead Spots in Linn County
KCRG-TV9, (05/05/2016)

A new emergency communications tower will eliminate communication dead spots in Linn County, Iowa. The tower, installed in Lisbon, Iowa, means police, firefighters and EMTs can now dial out on portable radios in places where coverage previously dropped out.
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Chief: Milwaukee Officer Saved by Body Armor in Shooting, Suspect Dead After Chase
The Associated Press via WQAD8, (05/06/2016)

Police said a Milwaukee police officer shot in the chest by a robbery suspect during a chase was saved by his body armor. Police said the suspect was later fatally shot by other officers. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said during a news conference that the officers were dispatched for a report of a robbery at an auto parts store the night of May 5, 2016. Police saw a masked man leaving the store and gave chase on foot. The suspect fired, striking one officer in the chest. The chase continued, the suspect fired again, and two officers returned fire, striking the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The wounded officer is at a hospital in stable condition.
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In the Digital Age, Connecticut State Police K-9 Unit Trains Edogs
WNPR, (05/09/2016), Patrick Skahill

Connecticut State Police are training canines to sniff out computers and cell phones and other digital evidence. A trained dog can find hard drives, cell phones, tablets, USB drives, digital cameras and memory cards. Dogs trained by the Connecticut police are serving at police departments across the country and at the FBI.
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Corrections News
New York Spending Over $1 Million to Enhance Prison Safety
The Associated Press via Finger Lakes Times, (05/05/2016)

New York state has committed more than $1 million to expand its use of body scanner technology to all 54 state prisons in order to crack down on contraband inside prisons. Cellsense devices are portable detection systems used to conduct full body scans of inmates who walk past, and also to screen mail, laundry, mattresses and other inmate property. Since April, units have been placed in 48 state prisons, with the remaining facilities to receive them by year's end.
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Wis. Prison Secretary Gives $10M Payraise to Guards
The Associated Press via WBAY, (05/05/2016)

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is raising correctional officers' pay in a move to boost recruitment and retention. Beginning June 26, correctional officers, sergeants and youth counselors will receive 80 cents more an hour. Correctional officers and sergeants at maximum security prisons in Waupun, Green Bay and Portage, as well as counselors at the state's youth prison in Irma, will get an additional 50 cents an hour from May 29 through Jan. 7. Employees who won't receive a raise will be eligible for bonuses. Corrections officials say the raises are expected to cost about $10 million annually, which will be covered with existing funds.
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$800M Prison Plan Dies in Last Hour of Legislative Session
Birmingham Business Journal, (05/05/2016)

An $800 million plan to build four new prisons in Alabama will not go forward after House members failed to vote on the bill before the end of the legislative session. The bill proposed by Gov. Robert Bentley called for an $800 million bond issue for construction of four mega-prisons in the state. Proponents argued that the construction is needed to relieve the state's prison overcrowding problems.
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NH Lawmakers Consider X-Ray Scanners at Prisons to Curb Influx of Contraband to Inmates, (05/04/2016)

New Hampshire lawmakers are considering equipping state prisons with full-body X-ray scanners to screen staff, inmates and visitors for contraband. According to a report in the Concord Monitor, purchasing the six devices would cost an estimated $1.1 million. The three state prisons are the men's facilities in Berlin and Concord, and the women's prison in Goffstown. Within the last year, prison officials wrote 18 citations to Concord inmates, 13 to Berlin inmates and six to Goffstown inmates for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Department of Corrections' records.
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NJ Aims for January Reopening of Fort Dix Prison as Drug Treatment Center
New Jersey 101.5, (05/02/2016), Michael Symons

New Jersey plans to reopen the Mid-State Correctional Facility at Fort Dix as a licensed drug treatment center. The center would accommodate 696 male inmates and provide moderate to high intensity treatment services, with less intense outpatient services continuing to be provided at other prisons. The state closed Mid-State Correctional Facility in 2014, transferred its inmates to other facilities and began $24 million in renovations.
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GPS Ankle Bracelet Monitoring of Low-Risk Offenders Costs More Than Anticipated
La Crosse Tribune via Government Technology, (05/03/2016), Anne Jungen

Offenders who remove and lose or throw away GPS ankle bracelet monitoring devices are costing La Crosse County (Wis.) money. GPS monitoring can be a more economical way to supervise lower risk offenders. The monitoring costs the county about $6 daily per offender; jail is $83. But from 2013 to 2015, offenders granted GPS monitoring removed and lost 84 of the $800 tracking units, and 22 so far this year, according to data provided by La Crosse County Justice Support Services. When offenders don't pay for unreturned units, taxpayers absorb the cost. There is $35,000 worth of missing equipment from last year alone.
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Moving From a Prison Cell to a Voting Booth
BBC News Magazine, (04/25/2016), Jessica Lussenhop

Former inmates in Maryland are able to cast votes this primary season. The Maryland legislature restored the voting rights of 40,000 former inmates in February. Maryland is the 14th state to allow former prisoners to vote as soon as they are released, regardless of additional probation or parole time. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has announced that he is restoring the voting rights of 200,000 men and women with felony records by executive order.
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Inmate Work Stoppage Ends at 1 of 2 Alabama Prison Facilities
WSFA 12, (05/10/2016)

A lockdown has been lifted at one of the two Alabama prison facilities where inmates were participating in a work stoppage that began May 1, officials said. Inmates said the work stoppages are the result of unhappiness over their pay, overcrowding and prison conditions. As many as 80 percent of the 300 inmates who participated in the strike at Elmore Correctional Facility have returned to work, said prison spokesman Bob Horton. A lockdown at Holman Prison remains in effect due to the continued work stoppage there.
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Ex-Prisoners Ask for Second Chance and a Job
VOA Learning English, (05/11/2016), Bruce Alpert

Last year, President Barack Obama reduced the sentences of 306 people incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. The U.S. Congress is considering bills to reduce required long prison sentences for nonviolent crimes. According to the U.S. Justice Department, about 650,000 people are released from federal, state and local prisons every year, and most need jobs, but finding work can be difficult. Devah Pager of Harvard University has studied problems facing people released from prison. In one study, people applied for jobs, all with the same experience, except some said they had been convicted of a crime. Those that listed past crimes got called back only half as much as those who did not list past crimes.
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'Video Visitation' Is Ending In-Person Prison Visits - and Prisons Are Going to Make a Ton of Money
Mic via Business Insider, (05/05/2016), Jack Smith IV

More than 600 prisons in 46 states have some form of video visitation, and some facilities have eliminated in-person visits. Proponents of in-person visits say eliminating them is inhumane. A Texas law entitles inmates to two in-person visits a week. In California, a bill introduced in the state senate would prevent county jails and private institutions from eliminating in-person visits.
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