Science and Technology News

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Cleveland Officer's Possible Fentanyl Exposure Highlights Drug's Threat to Police, Children, (07/19/2017), Justin Madden
A Cleveland police officer was accidentally exposed to possible fentanyl while executing a warrant in the city's North Collinwood neighborhood and was hospitalized. Law enforcement officials in Northeast Ohio are warning of how exposure to the drug can harm or kill people who simply come into contact with the powerful opioid. Cleveland police Lt. Michael Connelly said half of Cuyahoga County's overdoses happen within Cleveland's city limits, creating a greater risk for officers to be exposed to the drug. Connelly said using drugs on a coffee table can put a small child at risk for an overdose.
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New Crime Scene Tech Team Up and Running in Calhoun County, (07/21/2017), Christine VanTimmeren
Calhoun County, Mich. has a new crime scene tech team. The crime lab will be housed at the Marshall Law Enforcement Center and two deputies from Calhoun County and two officers from the Albion Police Department will now respond to major crimes across the county. The Michigan State Police or Battle Creek Police typically respond for crime scene processing. The new team will handle many of those cases instead, possibly getting to the scene quicker.
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DPS Crime Lab to Start Charging Law Enforcement Agencies
KXAN, (07/20/2017), Calily Bien
The Texas Department of Public Safety says its crime lab will now have to charge local agencies for various testing services beginning Sept. 1. The charges are to make up for an $11.5 million reduction in funding for the department's crime lab. DPS will charge for alcohol analysis, controlled substances, DNA and toxicology analysis.
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DPS to Get $600,000 Upgrade of New Dispatch System
Tucson News Now, (07/23/2017), Evan Schreiber
The Arizona Department of Public Safety will use a $600,000 grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety for a new, statewide computer-aided dispatch system. The new system will allow the agency to coordinate more quickly with other state law enforcement and government agencies, particularly the Arizona Department of Transportation.
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Madison Police Are Now in the Air, Thanks to Two New Drones
WiscNews, (07/25/2017), Chris Aadland
The police department in Madison, Wis. is among the latest law enforcement agencies to begin using unmanned aircraft systems. The department has deployed its new drone team five times since June, including an incident in which police used a drone to help map the scene of a homicide and armed robbery at a restaurant. The department's drones can carry three types of cameras, including an infrared camera. Madison police anticipate using the aircraft for search-and-rescue operations, to look for fugitives, to map crime scenes or help guide officers in tactical situations.
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Harris County Sheriff's Office Equips Deputies Against Deadly Opioids
Houston Chronicle, (07/24/2017), St. John Barned-Smith
The Harris County Sheriff's Office in Texas is equipping deputies with protective gloves, respirators and anti-overdose nasal sprays to protect officers from accidental exposure to dangerous opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil. Officials with Harris County said deputies are also being trained on how to avoid exposure to the drugs. Earlier this month, the Houston Police Department and officials from other local law enforcement agencies said they would stop performing roadside tests of substances believed to be illicit drugs.
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Corrections News

Local Jail Ending In-Person Visits; Switching to Video Chats
WPRI, (07/20/2017), Alexandra Venancio and Tim White
The Bristol County House of Corrections in North Dartmouth, Mass., will soon replace in-person visits between inmates and their family members and friends with video calls. Officials said the switch is to prevent drugs and contraband from coming into the facility. Visitors will use a converted trailer on the grounds of the facility containing video units to connect with inmates.
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'Arts in Corrections' Expands to All 35 State Prisons, Including CIM and CIW
Champion Newspapers, (07/22/2017), Josh Thompson
Instruction in guitar, dance, acting, storytelling and creative writing are among the programs being offered to inmates at California's 35 prison facilities, including the California Institution for Men and California Institution for Women in Chino. The Sacramento-based California Arts Council awarded contracts to a dozen arts organizations this month to help provide rehabilitative services to thousands of inmates through the prison system's Arts in Corrections program. Since launching Arts in Corrections in 2013, the state increased its $2.5 million investment in the first two years to an $8 million investment, officials said.
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Jails Had Different Experiences With Inmate Tablets
The Times Herald, (07/13/2017), Bob Gross
Two Michigan jails have had varying success with providing tablets to inmates. A pilot program at the Sanilac County Jail was suspended after about four months because jail officials were not able to control use of the tablets beyond taking them away, rather than being able to deny access remotely. A one-year-old program that provides inmates at the St. Clair County jail with tablets requires inmates to sign in with a PIN specific to them. Sergeants can go into the administrative system and deny access. Each housing unit has eight tablets, rather than the tablets being assigned to individual inmates. Both jurisdictions say the tablets keep inmates occupied and can provide a means to contact family and connect with educational opportunities.
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Threat From the Sky: 35 Drones Already Spotted at GA Prisons This Year
Fox5, (07/18/2017), Randy Travis
Prison staff have spotted 35 drones near Georgia State Prisons so far this year, compared to three spotted from 2013 through 2016. Officers have recovered several drones along with the contraband attached, usually with some fishing line that can be released by remote control. Typically, the packages include cell phones, chargers and tobacco. The Department of Corrections plans to test an early detection system for incoming drones.
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Federal Judge Orders Texas Prison System to Provide A/C for Heat-Sensitive Inmates at Pack Unit
Houston Chronicle, (07/19/2017), Gabrielle Banks
A federal judge recently ordered Texas officials to provide air-conditioned living quarters for elderly, disabled and other heat-sensitive inmates at the Pack Unit northwest of Houston. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison gave the state 15 days to draft a plan to ensure that 475 vulnerable inmates have living units cooled to no more than 88 degrees and that 1,000 others have easy access to indoor respite areas. The prison must also develop a heat-wave policy to prevent further injuries and install insect-proof window screens. The preliminary injunction, the result of a lawsuit filed by inmates, will remain in place for 90 days, which should carry the order through the hottest months. State officials said they would appeal the decision.
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NC Prisons Get Tougher in Fight Against Smuggled Drugs and Cellphones
Charlotte Observer, (07/21/2017), Ames Alexander and Gavin Off
North Carolina officials have begun testing ways to prevent employees from smuggling contraband to inmates. The move comes following an investigation published by the Charlotte Observer. At Lanesboro Correctional Institution, for example, workers reporting for duty must take off their shoes and pass them through an X-ray machine, staff members told the Observer. Employees are also now required to walk past devices that are designed to find contraband cellphones.
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Santa Clara County: Fentanyl Suspected in Inmate Overdoses
The Mercury News, (07/20/2017), Tracey Kaplan
Authorities suspect that four Santa Clara County inmates who overdosed most likely used fentanyl, an opioid pain reliever 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin. The inmates were found in medical distress at the Main Jail and taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and have recovered. Officials said fentanyl is suspected in the overdoses based on witness statements, the inmates' symptoms and their responsiveness to naloxone, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses and which jail medical staff administered. The sheriff's office plans to conduct an emergency training of 150 correctional officers on how to use naloxone.
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Providing Inmates With Tablets Keeps Jails Safer, Officials Say
ABC3340, (07/19/2017), Jennifer Gonsoulin
Walker County, Ala. is providing inmates with mobile tablets, which officials say is keeping the jail safer for inmates, staff and the community. Inmates use the technology to communicate with family. The tablets are mostly stationed inside dorms, and cannot be taken to cells. They are used under a closed circuit system, so inmates have no access to the Internet. All communication is legally monitored. Using the tablets also helps keep contraband out of the jail.
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Let's Stop Using Ankle Bracelets to Monitor Offenders
IEEE Spectrum, (07/20/2017), Robert S. Gable
This article discusses the evolution of offender-monitoring technology and an alternative approach based on smartphones rather than ankle bracelets.
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