Science and Technology News

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Virginia to Hand Out Prescription Drug Disposal Kits
Associated Press, (10/12/2016)

Virginia officials will distribute thousands of drug disposal kits to allow residents to safely dispose of unused prescription opioids. Attorney General Mark Herring said 80,000 drug deactivation kits were donated by the Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. When warm tap water is added, the kits deactivate the pills, allowing them to be thrown safely in the trash. About 50,000 kits will be distributed statewide through the Virginia Department of Health; 30,000 kits will be given to local hospitals, law enforcement agencies, pharmacies and nonprofits.
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California Shares Cybercrime Services With Local Law Enforcement
statescoop, (10/11/2016), Jason Shueh

The California Cyber Crime Center (C4) is now serving police departments in cities and counties throughout the state. C4 will serve 46 of California's 58 counties, minus access to specialized forensics, but these services will be added as the program matures. The state is also continuing its programs to train law enforcement in the detection and assessment of digital crime.
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Sheriff's Office, EMS Get New Equipment
The Dispatch, (10/12/2016), Mat Batts

Two emergency service agencies in Davidson County will be receiving updated equipment. The Davidson County Sheriff's Office will purchase 25 civil disturbance scene kits, which include riot helmets, shin guards, elbow pads, chest protectors, flex cuffs, gas mask pouches and protective gloves. The Davidson County Emergency Services will purchase two new ambulance units.
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New Crime Center Opens in Malone to Help NY Police
WCAX, (10/12/2016)

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice is establishing crime analysis centers across the state to give investigators better tools to track down criminals. The centers tie in to other crime centers, state and local databases, federal databases and other information sources to provide law enforcement with up-to-date, comprehensive data. Six centers have been established so far.
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Simi Police Get $100K Traffic Grant
Ventura County Star, (10/14/2016), Megan Diskin

The Simi Valley Police Department will receive a $100,000 grant for special traffic enforcement and crash prevention. The grant came from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a yearlong enforcement and public awareness campaign to prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries. Sample activities covered by the grant will include driver checkpoints and enforcement of distracted-driving laws.
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Court Security Officers Get Time on Simulator
The Sentinel-Record, (10/06/2016)

Court security deputies and transport officers in Garland County, Ark., recently took "shoot/don't shoot" simulator training by using the safety of a projection screen to test their ability to make split-second decisions. Experiencing these kind of stressful situations in practice should make them easier to handle if the officers ever face similar situations in real life. The simulator is part of National Park College's criminal justice program.
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Corrections News

Vt. Program Keeping Alleged Criminals Out of Prison Moves Forward
WCAX, (10/11/2016), Kyle Midura

A Vermont legislative committee has tentatively approved the continuation of a program designed to keep alleged offenders out of prison while tracking their movements. Under a pilot project in Windham County, 19 defendants have been allowed to return home while they await trial. The defendants wear anklets that track their movements. Authorities are notified if a defendant enters a prohibited area. The committee's approval allows the program's continuation to be considered when the new state legislative session begins in January.
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Maryland Prosecutor Hopes to Expand Use of Interlock Devices in DUIs
The Washington Post, (10/15/2016), Fredrick Kunkle

A Montgomery County, Md., prosecutor wants to expand the use of interlock devices to cover gaps in a new law that expanded their use. Interlocks require a driver to blow into a Breathlyzer-like device before starting a vehicle. If alcohol is detected, the device prevents the vehicle from starting. State law requires first-time offenders to use interlocks upon their first conviction. Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said county prosecutors will ask judges to order the use of interlocks even in cases in which first-time offenders can avoid a conviction by agreeing to a term of probation. He also said his prosecutors might ask that judges order their use in cases where alcohol has not led to a DUI but has fueled criminal behavior.
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Corrections Canada Trying to Stop Inmates From Overdosing on Fentanyl
CBC News, (10/16/2016), Alison Crawford

In the last three years, the synthetic opioid fentanyl has been linked "in some way" to 27 overdoses within the Canada's federal prisons, according to Nick Fabiano, director of general security for the Correctional Service of Canada. Because fentanyl is often disguised as another kind of less-potent opioid, such as oxycodone, Fabiano said inmates sometimes don't know what they're taking. The correctional service is conducting awareness campaigns for inmates and offering programs to reduce their dependence on drugs, while continuing to try to stop drugs from getting inside through the use of ion scanners and drug detector dogs.
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New Parole Regulations Will Be Fairer, Administrators Say
New York Law Journal, (10/17/016), Joel Stashenko

New York parole administrators have proposed new rules they say will base inmate release decisions more on the actual risk that offenders pose to the public, and less on the nature of their crime. The proposed regulations place a greater emphasis on factors such as good conduct while in prison and participation in education and treatment programs and less emphasis on the types of crimes committed. The proposed rules direct that parole boards shall use the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanction (COMPAS) assessment system as their guide in making parole decisions.
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Is Mass Incarceration in America Actually on the Decline?
Priceonomics, (10/10/2016)Dan Kopf

This article states that the perception that mass incarceration is on the decline across America is inaccurate. Most of the reduction in the national incarceration rate is the result of a lawsuit that forced the state of California to reduce its prison population in response to alleged human rights violations. California reduced its prison population from 171,000 in 2009 to 136,000 in 2014, a decrease of about 35,000. In that same period, the decline in the prison population across the U.S. was 54,000. Sixty-five percent of the reduction in the prison population from 2009 to 2014 came from California alone.
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Exeter Prisoner Caught With Tiny "Spy" Phone in His Cell
Exeter Express and Echo (10/12/2016)

A prisoner in Exeter in the U.K. who was caught with tiny illegal phone in his cell last March recently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four months in prison by magistrates. The prisoner admitted being found with a CZ Long mobile by warders. The device is advertised as the world's smallest phone and dubbed a "spy phone" because it is easy to hide.
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Prisons Try to Stop Drones From Delivering Drugs, Porn and Cellphones to Inmates
The Washington Post, (10/13/2016), Michael Rosenwald

Prisons officials are grappling with how to thwart the use of drones to deliver contraband to inmates. The threats to prisons and other facilities have given rise to start-ups selling anti-drone detection systems that use thermal imaging and other technology to spot airborne infiltrators. For example, DroneShield installs shoe-size boxes near potential targets that listen for motor and propeller sounds that drones make in the air, then sends alerts to law enforcement. The company is working with prisons in several U.S. states and in Europe.
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Pilot Program in New Haven Focuses on Addiction Treatment for Inmates
WNPR, (10/05/2016), Lori Mack

A pilot program in New Haven, Conn., integrates addiction treatment, health care, mental health, and peer mentorship to help prison inmates avoid relapse into drug use once they are released. The Living Free program is a partnership between the Yale School of Medicine, the Connecticut Department of Correction, and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The aim is to treat addiction and reduce recidivism. The program funded by a three year, $1.2 million federal grant.
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Alabama Man Killed in Chase After Allegedly Throwing Phones, Drugs Over Prison Fence, (10/13/2016), Prescotte Stokes III

An Alabama man who allegedly threw contraband over the G.K. Fountain Correctional Facility fence in Atmore later died in a car crash while being chased by correctional investigators. Investigators reported that the package thrown over the fence contained 25 cell phones, cell phone chargers, and 183 grams of synthetic marijuana.
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A New Frontier: How Big Data Can Improve Government Services
Slant, (10/05/2016), Julia Lane and Tom Herzog

This article discusses how data-driven analytics can improve government services. For example, it cites Bexar County, Texas, which used big data analytics to help reduce its local jail population, saving the state's taxpayers millions of dollars.
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Body Scanners Put End to Backdoor Smuggling at Ottawa Jail
Ottawa Sun, (10/14/2016), Andrew Seymour

The use of new body scanners is helping to thwart attempts to smuggle contraband into the jail. The scanners are being used in conjunction with traditional metal detectors and strip searches. Officials said as inmates become aware of the new technology's effectiveness in detecting drugs and other contraband, they are choosing not to bring contraband into the institution on their persons.
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David Renz Escaped Ankle Bracelet in Less Than 30 Seconds Before Murder and Rape, (10/18/2016), John O'Brien

A man who in 2013 killed a woman and assaulted a young girl after releasing himself from an electronic ankle bracelet took no more than 30 seconds to get out of the device and put it back together without his probation officer knowing. After releasing himself, David Renz drove to Great Northern Mall in Clay, N.Y., where he murdered Lori Bresnahan and raped a 10-year-old girl after abducting them in the parking lot. The quickness of Renz's March 2013 escape was revealed in a recently filed transcript of his deposition as part of a federal lawsuit. A recorded phone call from three years earlier was also filed, revealing the moment probation officers agreed to not get tamper alerts from the bracelets unless they lasted more than five minutes. Renz pleaded guilty to the murder and rape. He is serving a life sentence.
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High Court Determines Life Without Parole Is Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The Pueblo Chieftain, (10/08/2016), Juan Espinosa

Juveniles who were sentenced to life without parole in prison now may have a chance at freedom following a U.S. Supreme Court decision in January. Forty-nine Colorado prison inmates were all juveniles sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole between the 1990 and 2006. In 2006, Colorado capped the maximum sentence a juvenile could receive for any crime at 40 years to life. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sentencing children to mandatory life in prison without parole is cruel and unusual punishment, and the ban on mandatory LWOP for juveniles is retroactive. The decision impacts approximately 2,500 prisoners nationwide who were sentenced to LWOP when they were juveniles. Colorado passed legislation that gives the state's 49 former juveniles serving LWOP the opportunity to petition for resentencing.
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