Science and Technology News

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

Cop Shot, Injured in Butts County
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (09/13/2016)

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting of a patrol officer in Jackson overnight Tuesday. Officer Sherry Hall approached a man sitting on the shoulder of a road to see if he needed assistance; the man became argumentative and then fired a shot at her, authorities said. Hall sustained a deep bruise in the abdomen but the bullet was stopped from penetrating by her ballistic-resistant vest. The officer returned fire but the man fled into nearby woods.
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Marshall, TX Police Acquire New Use of Force Training Simulator
KSLA, (09/06/2016)

The Marshall Police Department has a new simulator to help with use of force training. The simulator is pre-loaded with nearly 600 different scenarios and approximately 50 new scenarios are added each year. The scenarios require the officer to respond appropriately to everything from simple verbal commands to necessary lethal force.
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UNT Students Will Soon Help the Feds Investigate Cellphone Cyber Crimes
North Texas Daily, (09/01/2016), Steven Payne

The University of North Texas plans to open a cellphone cyber security lab at UNT Frisco, thanks to a $350,000 donation from an alumnus. The cyber laboratory will assist police departments and federal agencies in investigations by analyzing cellphone data from devices used in criminal activities. The lab will provide students in the College of Criminal Justice with the opportunity to gain experience working with professional analysts and law enforcement.
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APD Receives Grant to Help With DNA Lab Backlog
CBS Austin, (09/12/2016), (09/12/2016)

Austin police will use a $200,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to help reduce the backlog of DNA testing of evidence, including sexual assault kits. The department temporarily shut down its DNA testing lab in June due to concerns raised by the Texas Forensic Science Commission. The department plans to reopen the lab next year. It will also look in the budget to find additional money for the tests. When the lab shut down in June, there was a backlog of 3,000 sexual assault kits awaiting testing. Since then, according to the SAFE alliance, 1,400 additional cases have been added, 700 which are from sexual assaults. While the APD lab is shut down, the Texas Department of Public Safety is testing 20 samples per month.
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Newberry County Sheriff's Office Receives Grant for Body Cams
WACH, (09/09/2016), Matthew Stevens

The Newberry County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina has received $118,000 from the state to supply its deputies with body cameras. The next step is to meet with prospective vendors, followed by a bidding process and finally the implementation of the cameras.
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Fulton Police to Start Using Body-Worn Cameras
The Marietta Daily Journal, (09/09/2016), Ross Williams

The Fulton County Police Department in Georgia is purchasing body cameras for its officers and in-car video cameras at a cost of about $400,000. According to the police department, there is no specific timeline on equipment delivery but the agency anticipates being fully deployed by year's end.
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Corrections News

First Aid for Mental Health: A New Approach in Pennsylvania's Prisons
CNN, (09/05/2016), Sarah Jorgensen, Brian Vitagliano and Bryce Urbany

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections overhauled its approach to inmate mental health care following an investigation by the Department of Justice that focused on the treatment of inmates with mental illness and the use of solitary confinement. Inmates with mental illness can no longer be held in solitary confinement. Also, all staff members are trained in Mental Health First Aid. Trainees learn how to identify warning signs of a suicide attempt and how to intervene when someone is experiencing delusions, and are educated on the various symptoms of different mental illnesses. Also, inmates can participate in the training to become peer-to-peer counselors for other inmates.
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Use of Electronic Offender-Tracking Devices Expands Sharply
Pew Charitable Trusts, (09/07/2016)

The number of accused and convicted criminal offenders monitored with electronic tracking devices in the United States increased 140 percent between 2005 and 2015, from approximately 53,000 to more than 125,000, according to a survey. The survey conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust counted the number of active GPS and radio-frequency units reported by the companies that manufacture and operate them. Correctional authorities use tracking devices such as ankle bracelets to monitor compliance with conditions of pretrial release, probation or parole.
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Use of Ankle Monitors Surges, But Effectiveness a Question
U.S. News & World Report, (09/07/2016), Alan Neuhauser

Use of electronic tracking devices has climbed 140 percent in the past 10 years, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. But there has been little study of how well the devices affect recidivism or ensure pre-trial defendants show up for court. Adam Gelb, director of Pew's Public Safety Performance Project, which produced the report, said, "That's fairly rapid growth of a new technology throughout the system without a solid research base that shows when and how the technology would be most effective. There are some indications that electronic monitoring can reduce recidivism, but at this point it's not clear for which offenders or at what stage of the process."
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Why Prisoners Nationwide Are Striking
CBS News, (09/09/2012), Aimee Picchi

Inmates in the U.S. planned a work strike for September 9, calling for an end to forced labor and what they call "prison slavery." Prisoners wash floors, work in the laundries and kitchens, and provide a large amount of the labor that keeps their facilities running. In return, they earn pennies per hour or even no pay at all. The results of the strike won't be known for days or weeks, said Azzurra Crispino, the media co-chair for the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. "By withdrawing from participation in their work, they believe it's the best way to have an impact on the prison industrial complex," she said. "This is not a one-day strike. The solutions to this problem are going to require at the very least a constitutional amendment change to be effective."
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Safety Improvements Coming to Rikers Island
News12, (09/01/2016)

Technology upgrades are coming to Rikers Island to address safety concerns among corrections officers. Upgrades include contraband scanners and Tasers. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the scanners will be similar to what airports use, and the Tasers will be used to break up small fights and prevent officers from having to wrestle inmates to the ground.
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Incarceration in the U.S. Costs More Than $1 Trillion a Year, Washington University Study Claims
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, (09/10/2016), Kristen Taketa

The economic toll of incarceration in the United States tops $1 trillion, and more than half of that falls on the families and communities of the people incarcerated, according to a study by Washington University researchers. The study's authors claim to be the first to assign an actual dollar amount to the societal costs of incarceration, not just the governmental costs of running corrections systems, which many experts estimate to be $80 billion. Some of the societal costs of incarceration include the wages people no longer earn while imprisoned and the amount of lifetime earnings they will likely lose on release because of employment restrictions and discrimination against the formerly incarcerated.
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