Science and Technology News

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

New Simulator Designed To Improve Officer Training, Safety
CBS4Denver, (09/30/2016)

As part of a revamp of the Denver Police Department's training program, the city has a 300-degree training simulator that can be customized with local settings to allow officers to practice making split-second decisions about use of force, verbal de-escalation and less-lethal options. Purchased by the Denver Police Foundation, the simulator will be made available to other local departments as well.
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Fairfax Police Reach Twitter Milestone
Washington Post, (10/02/2016), Martin Weil

The Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department recently reached 100,000 followers on its Twitter account. The department also emphasized its use of other social media platforms in announcing the milestone.
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New EMA Vehicle Will Benefit First Responders Here
Missourian, (10/2/2016), Monte Miller

In Missouri's Franklin County, the Emergency Management Agency has designed, and begun deploying, a customized 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe with a law enforcement package as a command vehicle that can assist law enforcement, fire and emergency services. The vehicle includes a mobile data hub, three separate mobile radios, a whiteboard and a tablet, and can access emergency scenes more easily and more quickly than some other vehicles.
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Premise Alerts Better Prepare First Responders for Special Situations, Emergency Professionals Say, (10/04/2016), Joyce Brumbaugh

Residents of Cambria County, Pa., may submit "premise alert" forms to the county's Department of Emergency Services. Information from the forms will be tied to their addresses and will alert fire, police and EMS personnel that an individual with special needs - such as autism, Alzheimer's, poor articulation due to stroke, hearing loss, lack of knowledge of spoken English, etc. - lives at that address.
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Corrections News

State Crime Mostly Down as Lockup Population Dwindles, Study Says
SF Gate, (09/27/2016), Bob Egelko

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, California has accomplished historical reductions in its incarcerated population since 2009, and overall crime rates have also reached historical lows. However, recently released inmates still commit new crimes at high levels, and in 2015, there were slight increases in both violent and non-violent crimes, mirroring a nationwide trend.
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DOC Groping for Alternatives After Ditching X-ray Body Scanners
The Courier-Gazette and Camden Herald, (09/29/2016), Jordan Bailey

The Maine Department of Corrections has stopped using transmission X-Ray scanners to detect contraband, following a citation from the Bureau of Labor Standards for "serious" safety violations related to operation of a body scanner at Maine Correctional Center. Corrections officers had voiced concerns about having to operate the scanners, which were more irradiating than the controversial backscatter X-ray systems previously used in airports.
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ACA Means More Coverage for People on Parole
Futurity, (09/26/2016), Kara Gavin

Under the Affordable Care Act, health coverage rates for individuals on probation or parole, or who had been arrested recently, have increased. The study also found that these individuals were more likely to be treated for drug or alcohol abuse, or mental illness. Researchers studied national data from nearly 16,000 adults under age 65 who were recently on probation or parole or under arrest between 2008 and 2014, comparing them to more than 218,000 adults who had no justice system involvement during the same years.
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Drone Flies 'Weapons and Escape Kit' Including Hacksaw Blades and a Screwdriver Into Jail
Daily, (10/01/2016)

A bundle dropped from a drone to a roof at HMP Hewell in Worcestershire, United Kingdom, contained hacksaw blades, a screwdriver, cannabis, mobile phones, chargers, superglue and razor blades. Officials confiscated the items and increased security at the facility. In the past 21 months, at least 29 drones have crashed inside correctional facilities in England and Wales.
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Online Behind Bars: If Internet Access is a Human Right, Should Prisoners Have It?
The Guardian US Edition, (10/01/2016), Dan Tynan

The vast majority of the 2.3 million inmates in the United States are forbidden from accessing the Internet, and inmates may be punished if their families post online on their behalf. Access is forbidden to inmates due to concerns they may use the Internet to harass and threaten victims and witnesses or to commit online crimes. Denying inmates a chance to keep skills current makes it more difficult for them to reintegrate into society on release. However, in the past two years, several providers have begun distributing basic tablet computers to inmates that offer limited technology access in an effort to improve behavior and reduce recidivism.
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Contraband Drugs in W.Va. Jails Are an Epidemic: State and County Officials
The Exponent Telegram, (10/04/2016), Lisa Troshinsky

In this article, various state and county officials agree that contraband drugs are a problem in the state's jails, but express varying opinions on whether, and how, to address the issue.
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Out of Prison, Out of Work
Bloomberg View, (10/03/2016), Justin Fox

Statistics shows that the number of men in the prime working ages of 25 to 65 who are not in the labor force (not actively working or looking for work) has been rising since the 1970s. Various factors may play a role, including the elimination of trade work by technology and increased emphasis on the importance of leisure time, but in the United States, high incarceration rates also play a significant role. The "NILF" rate has increased worldwide during that time period, but much more sharply in the United States, which has one of the highest per capita incarceration rates in the world.
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Iris-scanning Technology Helps Deputies Keep a Closer Eye on Inmates
WBRC Fox 6 News, (09/26/2016), Trang Pham-Bui

In Mississippi's Harrison County, individuals being booked into the county jail must stand still for not only a mug shot, but also an iris scan. Considered more accurate than fingerprints, the iris scans are processed through a database that tells deputies whether, and where, the individual has been booked before. The process takes only seconds to complete and results in an average of two "hits" for false identity monthly.
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Reliability Problems Plague Home Detention Technology
Fox 59, (10/02/2016), Russ McQuaid

Individuals wearing monitoring devices used in Marion County, Ind., have complained that their devices tend to malfunction, putting them in danger of re-incarceration even though they have not actually committed any violations. Although some of the problems relate to technical difficulties, others arise from their not understanding how to properly charge the device.
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Marin County Targets at-risk Youth for Internships
North Bay Business Journal, (10/02/2016), Cynthia Sweeney

Marin County's pilot program that offered internships to youth who are on probation or were on probation  has succeeded so well that the county plans to offer it again in 2017. The program exposed 10 youth ages 16 - 22 to various county departments over a six-week period. In addition to working 20 hours a week, the participants received training in job-readiness skills and participated in career exploration workshops.
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GPS Ankle Bracelet Key to Nabbing Alleged Pawtucket, Central Falls Bank Robber
Providence Journal, (09/28/2016), Amanda Milkovits

Parolee Derek DeCosta has been arrested and charged with committing bank robberies in Central Falls and Pawtucket, R.I., while wearing a GPS monitoring bracelet. Investigators tracked the device going in and out of the banks during the times the robberies were committed; DeCosta was also identified through video surveillance footage and a facial recognition program.
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From Handcuffs to Wristbands: Erie County Jail Inmates Wear New Tech-savvy Bracelets
Sandusky Register, (10/04/2016), Andy Ouriel

The Erie County (Pa.) Jail requires all inmates to wear new orange wristbands that use bar code technology to identify inmates, let medical staff know about medications, provide a record of where the inmates go inside the jail and include information on previous criminal history. The wristbands replace several paper-based systems and should provide for more accurate and efficient record-keeping. Funds from the jail's commissary service will pay the $1,200 annual cost of their use.
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