Science and Technology News

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

How Our Police Protect and Serve — in Two Languages
News Tribune, (10/18/2017), Ben Hohenstatt
In LaSalle County, Ill., police departments are increasingly relying on sharing the services of Spanish-speaking officers. Three officers from different local jurisdictions all help out with an increasing number of incidents that require a Spanish speaker, and dispatchers and departments also call on the services of a translation service when needed.
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New Emergency Phones Include Security Cameras, (10/18/2017), Aaron Eades
As the University of Illinois removes older emergency phone kiosks, the school is replacing them with newer models that include surveillance cameras. Although the phones are not often used for 911-type calls – most calls come from students needing a ride or an escort, or undergoing a mental health crisis – they are used frequently for those purposes. The cameras have already paid dividends, providing footage that helped solve at least one criminal case.
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From Traffic Stops to Shootouts, This Machine Simulates Over 600 Scenarios Faced by Penn Police
The Daily Pennsylvanian, (10/18/2017), Skyler Palatnick
The University of Pennsylvania Department of Public Safety is using a PRISim Suite Judgement Trainer to help prepare university police officers for potential lethal force situations. Unlike other "shoot/don't shoot" simulators, PRISim requires officers to first complete a mental exercise and become familiar with the scenario. It then allows officers to question and interact with suspects in the scenario.
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Police Use Less Lethal 40 mm Launcher to Save Man's Life
Channel, (10/18/2017), Dave Delozier
The police department in Madison, Wis., recently acquired a 40-mm launcher that fires a sponge-tipped round effective up to 120 feet, and the department has already used it to save the life of a suicidal man. An officer engaged the man in a dialog, and while he kept his attention occupied, the launcher was used to knock the man down, causing him to drop the knife he had used to try to injure himself and allowing officers to render aid.
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De-escalating the Situation: Alcoa Officers Participate in Unique Training
The Daily Times, (10/22/2017), Wes Wade
Officers from the Alcoa (Tenn.) Police Department are participating in mandatory de-escalation training at the University of Tennessee Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC) in Oak Ridge. Through the use of scenarios, officers learn new tactics to help them de-escalate situations where they might be inclined to use deadly force. The training uses five simulator screens to immerse the officers in the situation.
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California Shooting Kills 2 and Injures 2, Including Officer
Sacramento Bee, (10/23/2017),
A California Highway Patrol officer was protected from serious injury by his ballistic-resistant vest when a 61-year-old man went on a random shooting spree on Oct. 23, killing two people and wounding two, including the officer, according to authorities. Alan Ashmore allegedly opened fire on houses, gas stations and a winery in the town of Clearlake Oaks before he was arrested.
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Corrections News

Judge Strikes Down Kentucky's Social Media Ban for Sex Offenders
Lexington Herald-Leader, (10/20/2017), John Cheeves
U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove recently ruled against Kentucky's extremely broad laws restricting Internet access for registered sex offenders. A lawsuit brought by a plaintiff known only as John Doe contended that such restrictions kept individuals from all modern forms of communication and decreased their chances of reintegrating into society.
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At Philly Reentry 'Hackathon,' Using Tech to Drive Down Recidivism
WHYY, (10/23/2017), Danielle Fox
An eight-hour "hackathon" resulted in a bilingual website called "Mission: Reentry" that will offer formerly incarcerated persons essential services and resources. These services and resources can help individuals regain a place in society by providing leads on jobs and places to live. A flip-phone option to text for help is available to those who have limited or no Internet access. About 35 people, including coders and formerly incarcerated persons, worked together during the hackathon to brainstorm key re-entry points and potential solutions. Working in four teams, they created the website, apps and low-tech solutions to assist with the re-entry process.
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Cell Game: Novel Software Helping Inmates Find a Home
U.S. News & World Report, (10/24/2017), Michael Rubinkam for the Associated Press
A team from Lehigh University has won the Wagner Prize, the top international prize in the field of operations research practice, for developing software that assists the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in placing inmates in the most suitable correctional facility. The software can assign hundreds of inmates simultaneously, taking into account demographics, criminal history, mental illness, and educational and vocational interests. It also identifies gang members and potentially violent inmates and separates them.
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First Class of Prison Entrepreneurs at Donovan Graduates
San Diego Union Tribune, (10/23/2017), Neil Senturia
Some 22 inmates from California's Donovan State Prison recently completed Defy Ventures, a program to develop entrepreneurship. The 100-hour, five-month course includes videotape lectures from Stanford and Harvard professors and a work book. About 70 percent of the coursework focuses on life skills, including modifying behavior, improving self-image, writing a resume and preparing for job interviews. The remainder of the course helps inmates develop a business plan.
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Professors Win Grant for Next-Gen Electronic Monitoring
UMass Lowell, (10/17/2017), Katharine Webster
Three members of the faculty at UMass Lowell have teamed up to develop "next generation" electronic monitoring using smartphones, sensor technology and GPS tracking to not only record individuals' whereabouts, but also to reward constructive behaviors. BEACON (Behavioral Economics Application with Correctional Opportunities Notification) recently received a $99,000 National Science Foundation planning grant, part of a national push for criminal justice reform based on research evidence.
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