Science and Technology News

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology

Law Enforcement News

Police Departments in Smaller Cities Getting Real-time Street Surveillance Centers
Digital Trends, (05/24/2016), Bruce Brown

The new Real-Time Crime and Data Intelligence Center in Hartford, Conn., has a wall of high-resolution flat screens with live video feeds from the streets, license plate scanning and automatic gunshot detection. Sgt. Johnmichael O'Hare says in just a few months the center has already provided information that has assisted in hundreds of cases. Such centers once were the province of larger agencies only, but an increasing number of small cities have opened their own.
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DHS Navigates the World of Vehicular Digital Forensics
Signal, (05/25/2016), George I. Seffers

Under Project iVe (eye-vee), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's (S&T's) Cyber Security Division has partnered with Berla Corporation of Annapolis, Md., to develop a motor vehicle digital forensics toolkit. Modern vehicles have an average of 70 computers that can reveal a wide variety of data from systems such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, navigation aids and various apps. Vehicles also store recent destinations, favorite locations, call logs, contact lists, text messages, emails, pictures, videos, social media feeds and navigation history, and some may record when and where vehicle lights are turned on; locations where doors are opened and closed; and where Bluetooth devices connected.
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Law Enforcement Groups Train by Looking at Works of Art
KSAT 12, (05/24/2016), Stephanie Serna

Art of Perception and founder Amy Herman helps law enforcement officers around the country learn more about thinking outside the box through the study of works of art. Herman asks officers participating in her workshops to look at paintings as though they were looking at crime scenes.
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Police App in Indiana Lets Residents Report Non-911 Incidents to Cops
eWeek, (05/27/2016), Todd R. Weiss

In Fishers, Ind., residents can download a new free mobile app called CrimeWatch that allows them to report suspicious incidents, erratic driving and other non-911 information via text message. The app, developed by a local resident, lets users submit photos, check off a box reporting specific types of concerns and submit reports that go directly to officers in the field. All users later receive a follow-up report from the department.
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DC Police to Resume Tweeting Breaking News
WUSA, (05/31/2016), Garrett Haake

The 97,000 followers of @DCPoliceDept will once again receive breaking crime news via tweets, a spokesman for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department has announced. MPD had originally stated its intention to move away from tweeting crime news to making the information available via the DC Alerts system on online Yahoo message boards. The decision had been criticized as causing the appearance that the department wanted to hide crime reports.
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Corrections News
Babies Behind Bars: Should Newborns Do Time With Mom?, (05/25/2016), Collen Long for the Associated Press

The maximum-security Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York State is one of only eight facilities in the country that provide nurseries where inmates and their babies to live together. An estimated 1 in 25 women are pregnant when they enter prison, and many other countries mandate that mothers and newborns live together. Reaction to nursery programs in this country has been mixed.
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Experts Question Validity of Tests Predicting Opioid Addiction Risk
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, (05/29/2016), Kristina Fiore

Bringing the nation's opioid addiction epidemic under control is a top priority for U.S. public health officials, as nearly 19,000 deaths related to prescription opioid painkillers and more than 10,000 deaths related to heroin occurred in 2014. Several companies are marketing tests that claim to test for a genetic bias toward addiction, but there are many concerns about the accuracy of the tests and their relative value.
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Dutch Firm Trains Eagles to Take Down High-Tech Prey: Drones
Alaska Dispatch-News, (05/29/2016), Stephen Castle for the New York Times

In the Netherlands, eagles and other birds of prey are being trained to intercept and take down small, off-the-shelf unmanned aerial vehicles. Such small UAVs are being used to drop contraband into correctional facilities and conduct unwarranted surveillance; they also pose a danger to aircraft. The birds are trained to bring UAVs to the ground, eliminating risks of falling debris that occur with other, more destructive methods.
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State Prison K-9 Officer First To Be Cellphone Detection Certified In U.S., (05/28/2016), Russell Hulstine

Riley, a stray dog originally donated to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, and his handler recently became the first team in the nation certified in cellphone detection. According to the Oklahoma DOC, during the certification process Riley found 100 percent of cellphones hidden as part of the test, along with another phone that officials did not know was present.
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GOP Governors Ask FCC to Address Illegal Prison Cellphones
ABC News, (05/24/2016), Meg Kinnard for the Associated Press

A group of 10 Republican governors has sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking permission for states to apply technology to stop the use of contraband cell phones in correctional facilities. Implicit in the letter is a desire to jam cellphone signals originating from within the facilities. A 1934 law says the FCC can grant permission to jam public airwaves only to federal agencies, and the cellular industry opposes allowing the use of localized jamming technology.
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Machine Bias
Pro Publica, (05/23/2016), Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu and Lauren Kirchner

This article presents an in-depth look at Pro Publica's study of the reliability of tools that predict the likelihood of an arrestee's reoffending. Their research found the tools to be extremely inaccurate. Such tools, based on algorithms, are increasingly used in a number of states in determining sentencing and rehabilitation needs.
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NIAAA Selects Winners of its Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge
National Institutes of Health News Release, (05/19/2016)

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has announced the winners of its Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge, a competition to design a discreet device capable of measuring blood alcohol levels in near real-time. The winning prototype and recipient of the $200,000 first prize was submitted by BACtrack, a company known nationally for designing and selling portable breath alcohol testers for consumer use and professional use. Their entry, the BACtrack Skyn, is worn on the wrist and offers continuous and non-invasive monitoring of a user's BAC.
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Having a Parent Behind Bars Costs Children, States
Government Technology, (05/24/2016), Teresa Wiltz

Research continues to show that having a parent who is incarcerated can have a destabilizing effect on the estimated 1.7 million children in this country who are so affected. This effect can have consequences that include trauma and trouble in schools, homelessness and reliance on welfare and foster care.  Some states are attempting to counter this effect with increased use of televisits or by placing the parent in a nearby correctional facility. Other potential remedies include providing emotional support and home services while the parent is incarcerated and developing better ways to reconnect parents and children after a sentence ends.
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County Commissioners Agree to Support New Adult Probation Assessment Tool
The Sentinel, (05/18/2016), Jake Austin

In Cumberland County, Ohio, the Board of Commissioners recently voted to implement the use of the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS), a proposed actuarial tool to be used for adult probation assessments. The results of this 35-question tool would provide an assessment of an individual's risk of re-offending in the future.
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North Carolina Prisons Moving Away From Solitary Confinement
The News & Observer, (05/26/2016), Taylor Knopf

North Carolina has decreased the number of offenders kept in solitary confinement by nearly 50 percent as the state moves away from broad use of the practice. State Prison Commissioner David Guice said staff members are assaulted more often in locked-down units, and other states that have decreased the practice have seen a corresponding decline in assaults.
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Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections to Discard Terms 'Offender,' 'Felon' in Describing Ex-prisoners
The Washington Post, (05/25/2016), John E. Wetzel

Secretary John E. Wetzel of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has announced the commonwealth will follow the federal government's lead and no longer use the terms "offender" and "felon" to describe individuals who have completed serving their sentences. In this letter to the Washington Post, he discusses why Pennsylvania is moving toward a similar policy.
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Alleged Serial Rapist on GPS Monitoring Faces New Rape Charge
Braintree Patch, (05/25/2016), Daniel Libon

Steven Lent of Quincy, Mass., was recently indicted by a grand jury on rape charges that allegedly occurred while he was wearing a GPS monitoring device. Lent was free on bond while awaiting trial on charges that he raped five women in 2015. He allegedly forced an escort to perform a sex act while he held a knife to her throat, then told her he had no money.
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