Science and Technology News

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Criminal Justice Technology in the News


Law Enforcement News

Distracted Driving Simulator Comes to Pensacola State College
WEARTV, (03/19/2018), Kristie Henderson
A simulator showing the dangers of distracted and impaired driving was part of Pensacola State College's campus safety day. The simulator allows participants to experience the potential consequences of texting and driving and driving under the influence. Also on hand for the event were the Florida Highway Patrol, Pensacola Police, Escambia County EMS and Pensacola Fire Department.
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Police Asking Homeowners to Register Home Surveillance Cameras to Fight Crime
WCNC, (03/20/2018), Brandon Goldner
The Gaston County Police Department in North Carolina is asking homeowners to voluntarily register their home surveillance cameras so investigators can solve crimes quicker. Locations of the cameras will be mapped. Detectives will only use homeowners' cameras if they volunteer, and the department will not be able to remotely access the cameras.
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Three Universities Launch National Database to Track School Shootings
The Crime Report, (03/20/2018)
Three universities have created a national, open-source database to track school shootings and develop strategies for countering them. The partnership between John Jay College, the University of Texas at Dallas and Michigan State University, will track fatal shooting attacks that targeted K-12 students or teachers. It also includes cases that resulted in injuries but no deaths; domestic violence; workplace violence; and suicides on school grounds involving a firearm. The database will include data about all publicly known school shootings that resulted in at least one injury from 1990 to Dec. 31, 2016. It will be made public in the spring of 2019.
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MCC's Active Shooter Drill Prepares First Responders
WTOK, (03/21/2018), Perry Robinson
Meridian Community College in Mississippi was recently the scene of an active shooter drill. The training drill is held every other year to prepare law enforcement and paramedics for an emergency. Participating agencies included the MCC, Meridian and Marion police departments, and several other MCC departments. This is the fifth year the school has done disaster response training.
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DUI Exercises Show Students the Dangers of Drunk Driving
WJAC, (03/22/2018), Bridget McClure
Students at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania used simulators in a recent exercise to better understand what it is like to drive drunk. Students performed a series of tests including mock sobriety tests, a distracted driving simulator, and writing their names and completing puzzles while using impairment simulation goggles. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and members of law enforcement police helped set up the event.
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Washington State Plans Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign
American Trucker, (03/27/2018)
More than 150 law enforcement agencies in Washington state will be out in force looking for distracted drivers during April 2 to 14. Under a state law termed "Driving Under the Influence of Electronics," drivers may not hold cell phones or watch videos while they are driving, stopped in traffic or at a stop light. It covers tablets, laptops, games or any other hand-held electronic devices; the law also restricts hands-free use to a single touch. Nearly 1,500 drivers have been ticketed each month since the law began in July 2017.
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Council Approves Upgrading Regional Emergency System
King County, (03/26/2018)
The Metropolitan King County Council in Washington state has approved a regional effort to upgrade and modernize the county's emergency communications system known as E911. Once implemented, the updated system network could support the transmission of text, photo and video-to-911, allow for better location identification, and receive automatic collision notification from vehicles and data from medical devices.
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Corrections News

Outside Experts Looking for Ways to Make NC Prisons Safer
WRAL, (03/20/2018), Laura Leslie
A new Prison Reform Advisory Board set up to advise the North Carolina Department of Public Safety on how to improve safety and security for prison workers held its first meeting in March. Department officials briefed the panel on changes that have already been made in the wake of five deaths last year. A corrections officer was beaten to death and four prison workers died in an attempted inmate escape. DPS has increased penalties for rules infractions by inmates, barred anyone convicted of a violent crime from working in prison industries that give them access to tools, increased hiring and training of corrections officers, and issued batons and stab-resistant shirts to more officers.
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Bill Would Ban Drones Near Prisons
Press Republican, (03/23/2018), Brian Molongoski for Watertown Daily Times
The New York state senate has passed a bill that would ban drone use within 1,000 feet of correctional facilities in an effort to thwart attempts to smuggle contraband into prisons. The restrictions would not apply to the operation of a drone approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial purposes. The bill has been sent to the state assembly.
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FDC Investigates After Drone Drops Contraband at Panhandle Prison
Pensacola News Journal, (03/24/2018), Emma Kennedy
Authorities are investigating two confirmed drops of contraband using drones at Florida prisons in the last 30 days. One of those drops was discovered at a Panhandle prison after correctional officers spotted the drone, which was delivering a cellphone and tobacco.
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Drone Flyovers Pose Problems for Southern Vermont Prison
Seven Days, (03/22/2018), Taylor Dobbs
The Vermont Department of Corrections wants the state legislature to pass legislation banning drone flights above prisons. Deputy Corrections Commissioner Mike Touchette recently told a senate committee that there have been about a dozen drones fly over the Southern State Correctional Facility in the last year. The committee subsequently approved a bill approved earlier in March by the Vermont House of Representatives that would limit how close drones can get to state correctional facilities. The bill now goes to the senate floor for consideration.
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Prison Deaths Are Piling up in S.C. -- Does Anybody Care?
The Post and Courier, Opinion, (03/24/2018), Steve Bailey
This opinion piece discusses inmate deaths in South Carolina correctional facilities caused by other inmates or suicide, and possible reasons contributing to the spike in violence.
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Education Opportunities in Prison Are Key to Reducing Crime
Center for American Progress, (03/02/2018), Kathleen Bender
This article discusses how increasing education programs in correctional facilities can benefit inmates and society in general by reducing recidivism and prison costs.
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A Smartphone-Based ‘Office' for Parole Agents
GCN, (03/19/2018), Sara Friedman
An app allows parole field agents to update case files from their smartphones. The Virtual Integrated Mobile Office (VIMO) app is a collaboration between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the San Diego County Probation Department. The app builds on the county's Probation Utility Mobile Application. Approximately 1,400 officers are currently using VIMO.
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WV Supreme Court: Complete Internet Restriction Violates 1st Amendment
Charleston Gazette-Mail, (03/18/2018), Lacie Pierson
The West Virginia Supreme Court has ruled it is a violation of the First Amendment to completely restrict a person's access to the Internet as a condition of parole from prison, and that such restrictions must be tailored based on the nature of a person's crime. In an opinion handed down March 12, the justices ruled it was unconstitutional for the state parole board to revoke a man's parole because his girlfriend had a computer with Internet access that he didn't use.
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The New Frontier of E-Carceration: Trading Physical for Virtual Prisons
Electronic Frontier Foundation, (03/22/2018), Stephanie Lacambra
This opinion article on electronic monitoring discusses concerns over its use and the need for more regulation and oversight.
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Friday, March 23, 2018

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein Delivers Remarks Announcing Nine Iranians Charged with Conducting Massive Cyber Theft Campaign on Behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps


Good morning.

For many decades, the United States has led the world in science, technology, research, and development.

Hostile individuals, organizations and nation-states have taken note of our success.  They increasingly attempt to profit from America’s ingenuity by infiltrating our computer systems, stealing our intellectual property, and evading our controls on technology exports.

When hackers gain unlawful access to computers, it can take only a few minutes to steal discoveries produced by many years of work and many millions of dollars of investment.

That type of criminal activity does not just cause economic harm. It also threatens our national security.  Identifying and prosecuting computer hackers is a priority for the Department of Justice.   

We are here today to announce that a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York indicted nine Iranians for conspiring to hack into computers and defraud American and foreign universities, businesses, and government agencies.

I want to caution you that an indictment is not a finding of guilt.  In the American judicial system, defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

The indictment alleges that the defendants worked on behalf of the Iranian government, specifically the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

They hacked the computer systems of approximately 320 universities in 22 countries. 144 of the victims are American universities. The defendants stole research that cost the universities approximately $3.4 billion to procure and maintain.

The stolen information was used by the Revolutionary Guard or sold for profit in Iran.

The defendants worked for the Mabna Institute, an organization that two of the defendants founded with the stated purpose of helping Iranian universities access scientific research.

Their work consisted of stealing research through illegal computer intrusions.

The indictment charges nine defendants for committing seven federal crimes. The charges include computer fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and identity theft.

I want to make two additional points before I turn over the microphone to United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who will describe the charges in greater detail.

First, every sector of our economy is a target of malicious cyber activity. Everyone who owns a computer needs to be vigilant to prevent attacks.

Academic institutions are prime targets for foreign cyber criminals. Universities can thrive as marketplaces of ideas and engines of research and development only if their work is protected from theft.

The events described in this indictment highlight the need for universities and other organizations to emphasize cyber security, increase threat awareness, and harden their computer networks.

The second important point is that our work on this case is critically important because it will disrupt the criminal operations of the Mabna Institute and deter similar crimes by others.

The indictment publicly identifies the alleged perpetrators.  This type of public identification helps deter state-sponsored computer intrusions by stripping them of anonymity and imposing consequences.

Revealing the Mabna Institute's nefarious activities makes it harder for them to do business.  Additionally, we are working with foreign law enforcement agencies and providing the private sector with information to help neutralize Mabna’s hacking infrastructure.  

By bringing these criminal charges, we reinforce a norm that most of the civilized world accepts: nation-states should not steal intellectual property for the purpose of giving domestic industries a competitive advantage.

As a result of the indictment, the defendants are now fugitives from justice. There are more than 100 countries where they cannot travel without fear of arrest and extradition.  And, thanks to the Treasury Department, the defendants will find it difficult to engage in business or financial transactions outside of Iran.

By making clear that criminal actions have consequences, we deter schemes to victimize the United States, its companies, and its citizens, and we help protect foreign allies.

In summary, the United States is taking several coordinated actions to coincide with unsealing the indictment. We are imposing financial sanctions on the individual defendants and the Mabna Institute. We are releasing information about cyber vulnerabilities. And we are enlisting the assistance of international law enforcement partners.

I am grateful to Secretary Steven Mnuchin for using Treasury’s authorities to reinforce the criminal charges.  I also want to thank United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman, Assistant Attorney General John Demers, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the many Department of Justice employees who worked to secure this important indictment. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Criminal Justice Technology in the News


Law Enforcement News

Sheriff Announces Citizen Police Academy/Law Enforcement Mini Academy
Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, (03/13/2018)
The Monmouth County Sheriff's Office in New Jersey is holding a Citizen Police Academy/ Law Enforcement Mini Academy, which offers county residents ages 14 and above an opportunity to learn about the complex roles of modern-day law enforcement agencies. Speakers from municipal, county, state and federal agencies provide insight into their roles in law enforcement, and the role of citizens in assisting agencies in deterring crime. Enrollment in the course involves a six-week commitment to attend weekly classes. Sample topics include Internet Dangers and Safety Measures, Distracted Driving and the Importance of Fitness in Public Safety.
Link to Article


Pittsburgh Council Backs Expanding Gunshot Detection System
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, (03/14/2019), Adam Smeltz
The Pittsburgh City Council has endorsed expanding the city's gunshot-detection system to reach all six police zones. Pittsburgh began a pilot with the technology in January 2015 in one zone, and the system has pointed to more than 2,200 gunfire incidents, according to the Department of Public Safety. Police have made 48 arrests and responders have located 83 shooting victims. Under the planned expansion, the detection technology coverage would include about 18 square miles citywide, targeting areas that account for the majority of gun-related incidents.
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Delaware Pilot Program Will Replace Driver's License With a Smartphone App
BGR, (03/14/2018), Chris Mills
The Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles has launched a pilot program to test use of electronic driver's licenses. The program will include about 200 DMV employees and stakeholders using the technology for the next six months. According to DMV, features of the mobile driver's license will allow, for example, enhanced privacy for age verification, ease of use and secure access.
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Long-Awaited 911 CAD System Goes Live
The Greenville Sun, (03/15/2018), Ken Little
A new 911 computer-aided dispatch system has been activated in Greenville, Tenn. Emergency call login information such as times and addresses will now automatically be shared with the Greeneville Police Department. Dispatchers from 911 are learning how to input new types of information such as how to run driver's license and vehicle tag inquiries. The information will then be relayed to police officers, eliminating an extra step involving a police dispatcher's communicating with 911.
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Analysis of Arkansas School Security Kicks Off
Arkansas Online, (03/19/2018), Cynthia Howell
The new Arkansas School Safety Commission formed to make recommendations on school safety held its first meeting in March. The panel is to identify gaps in school safety and how to make schools safer. It is to submit its preliminary report by July 1 and a final report by Nov. 1. The panel includes educators, members of law enforcement and mental health professionals.
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Medford Police Report Increase in Use of Overdose Reversal Medication
News10, (03/18/2018), Genevieve Grippo
The police department in Medford, Ore., has seen an uptick in the need to administer naloxone, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses. The police department began administering naloxone in 2015, and since then, has deployed it 39 times, saving 37 lives. By this time in 2017, police officers had administered naloxone three times. So far this year, the drug has been used eight times by the department.
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State Police Roll Out System for Real-Time Sharing of OD Data
The Tribune-Democrat, (03/20/2018) John Finnerty
The Pennsylvania State Police have launched an online tool for local police and troopers to submit information about drug overdoses. The Pennsylvania Overdose Information Network is a centralized repository to track overdoses, naloxone administrations and investigative drug information that may be used by police, public safety and health care professionals to better track and share information related to opioid abuse. The tool will help police coordinate efforts to combat drug trafficking and help identify hot spots of dangerous drug activity.
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Area Police Participating in Aggressive Driving Initiative
The Tribune-Democrat, (03/20/2018), Ronald Fisher
Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies are participating in the Aggressive Driving Enforcement Initiative, a partnership comprised of municipal police departments, Pennsylvania State Police, PennDOT, Highway Safety Network and Buckle Up PA. State police and 235 municipal agencies will conduct a targeted aggressive driving enforcement wave from now through April 29. The effort is an attempt to reduce vehicle accidents with a focus on speeding, work zones safety violations and lane changes.
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Corrections News

Nebraska Prison Unit for Veterans Helps Men Rediscover Honor and Respect
Lincoln Journal Star, (03/18/2018), JoAnne Young
This article describes a 40-bed unit in the Nebraska State Penitentiary that is solely for military veterans, and how it is helping them.
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Drones Used to Deliver Drugs, Cellphones and Other Contraband to Delano Prison, Documents Say
The Bakersfield Californian, (03/19/2018), Jason Kotowski
Authorities have documented incidents where drones carrying contraband have flown inside the perimeter of Delano's Kern Valley State Prison, according to court documents. Prison staff found a crashed drone in September and cellphones in a bag attached to the drone. In February, a prison staffer heard a noise that sounded like a drone and the sound of something hitting the dirt. Staff found bags containing cellphones, drugs and hacksaw blades.
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Missouri Prisoners to Receive Smart Tablets
News-Press Now, (03/17/2018), Alex Flippin
Missouri plans to provide smart tablets to prison inmates. About 33,000 tablets will be donated to the Missouri Department of Corrections and distributed to every inmate in the state. Inmates will have access to email that will be monitored. They will not have access to the internet. The tablets will be loaded with rehabilitative lessons and programs.
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Alarming Spike in Panhandle Prison Deaths Reaches 'Point of Crisis'
Pensacola News Journal, (03/17/2018), Emma Kennedy
This article discusses inmate deaths and possible contributing factors in some Florida prisons. The three major prisons in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties - Century Correctional Institution, Santa Rosa Correctional Institution and Blackwater River Correctional Institution - investigated a total of six inmate deaths in 2016. That number rose to 23 in 2017, and so far in 2018, there have been seven deaths at those three facilities.
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Introducing Inmates to Real Life via Virtual Reality
U.S. News & World Report, (03/15/2018), Catherine Kim
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is using virtual reality to try to prepare some inmates for release from prison. The program is for people convicted as juveniles and serving life sentences. The department implemented programs such as classes, training and virtual reality, which has been used to give inmates a glimpse of where they will live after release, such as a halfway house.
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8 Surprising Reasons People Have Gotten Arrested on Purpose
SFGate, (03/19/2018), Mark Abadi for Business Insider
This article discusses reasons why some people purposely get arrested in order to go to jail, such as to obtain access to healthcare, smuggle in drugs to sell to inmates and to quit smoking.
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Screening Wastewater Could Help Cities Track Opioid Use
Government Technology, (03/16/2018), J.B. Wogan
A startup company has devised a tool to measure the concentration of opioids in sewage to estimate levels of drug use in different neighborhoods. Biobot Analytics was the winning startup in a pitch competition judged by mayors at the South by Southwest conference in Austin. Company officials say cities can collect wastewater samples and analyze the data every two weeks, and so pinpoint where residents are abusing drugs and whether consumption declines after policy interventions.
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