Science and Technology News

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

Forensic 'Body Farm' Opens in Florida - Becomes Seventh in US
Forbes, (02/28/2017), Kristina Killgrove
A state-of-the-art human decomposition research facility known as the Florida Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactical Training (FIRST) will soon open just north of Tampa. The facility will include body donations and thus is sometimes known as a "body farm," but will also serve as a training site for K9, ballistics, remote sensing and other cutting-edge forensic techniques. The donated bodies are used in research to help forensic scientists better understand decomposition in specific environments.
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Phoenix Police Launch Virtual Block Watch, (03/02/2016), Amanda Goodman
The Phoenix Police Department has started a pilot Virtual Block Watch in one precinct, encouraging residents and business owners to enroll their camera systems for inclusion in a precinct-wide map. Investigators may then call on participants to share footage in the event of a nearby crime. Police will not have direct access to the camera systems.
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Police Finding Interesting Ways to Get New Officers
WFMY News 2, (03/06/2017), Hope Ford
Police departments in Winston-Salem and Burlington, N.C., have turned to new ways to bring in recruits to fill vacancies caused by retirements and others factors. Winston-Salem plans call for public service announcements to be broadcast during the upcoming men's Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament; the PSAs are aimed at bringing in 911 dispatchers as well as officers. Billboards and recruiting trips to New York City have also proven successful.
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Hotline Launched for Native American Survivors of Domestic Violence
The Wichita Eagle, (03/07/2017), Katherine Burgess
The StrongHearts Native Helpline, which launched on March 6, offers culturally relevant, safe and confidential resources to Native American women and men who have been victims of domestic violence. Created by The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center (NIWRC) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the hotline initially serves Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
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Courts News

New Mental Health Court Hopes to Rescue Select Inmates
Chicago Tribune, (02/28/2017), Jerry Davich
Lake County, Ind., will launch the state's fourth mental health court. The court will collaborate with local mental health facilities to keep individuals diagnosed with mental illness who commit non-violent crimes out of correctional facilities. The program includes medications and mentorship in addition to probation. Similar programs in other counties have shown success in promoting long-term law-abiding behavior.
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Marion County Prosecutor Partners With NextDoor App, (03/07/2017), Olivia Covington
The Marion County (Ind.) Prosecutor's Office and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department have begun a partnership with the NextDoor app, the first such involving a prosecutor's office. Prosecutor Terry Curry says he hopes that citizens will use the app to become more involved in community prosecution. Residents who sign up for the free service will be able to see everything Curry's office shares and engage with the office about crime watch efforts.
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Corrections News

Vermont Considers Building New $140M Prison, (02/28/2017), Elizabeth Hewitt
A proposal to build a new 800-bed facility is under consideration in Vermont as a way to deal with aging facilities. The facility would be built by a private entity but then leased to the state. If passed, the proposal would allow the state to close and consolidate several aging facilities.
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More Contraband Found at Meridian Prison
Associated Press, (03/06/2017)
Mississippi Department of Corrections officials have conducted several recent sweeps for contraband, turning up cell phones, drugs, wooden bats, a radio transmitter and bags of crystal methamphetamine. One inmate had 400 packages of Ramen noodles, which are often used by inmates as currency.
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Nebraska Prisons Still Struggling With Hiring, Retention
Associated Press, (03/06/2017), Grant Schulte
During recent budget hearings, the director of Nebraska's Department of Correctional Services said the department struggles to hire and retain employees, but has seen recent improvement. A prisoner uprising several days earlier at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution left two inmates dead; the facility has more than 50 job vacancies.
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Video Visitation Could be Key Point in Relocation of Nevada Inmates
Las Vegas Review Journal, (03/06/2017), Ben Botkin
The Nevada Department of Corrections plans to provide video visitation services to inmates being sent out of the state to serve their sentences. The state will soon seek bids to provide housing services to some 200 inmates and Department of Corrections Director James Dzurenda wants provision of that service to be included in the request for proposals.
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North Carolina Bill Would Make Drone Flight Near Prisons Illegal
Associated Press, (03/07/2017)
The North Carolina House Transportation Committee has approved legislation that would prohibit flying an unmanned aircraft system within 500 feet of a correctional facility located in the state (or up to 250 feet above the location). Attempting to use a UAS to deliver contraband would be a low-grade felony; other violations would constitute a misdemeanor. Law enforcement would be authorized to confiscate and sell the UAS.
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State Prison System Launches New Offender Look-up Website
NewsOK, (03/08/2017), Graham Lee Brewer
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has implemented an improved offender look-up website featuring more advanced search capabilities. The general public can search the DOC's database by race, age, conviction and sentence, among other identifiers. The system lists inmates as "active" or "inactive," but does not give a release date; the state is still working on revising other parts of its tracking system.
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