Emerging jail and prison technology is creating safer environments for staff and inmates alike. Converging new technologies with aging jail facilities, however, is a challenge.
Smart technology and advanced monitoring systems must be designed and installed into a building’s infrastructure. That’s why it’s critical for certified correctional facility technology providers and construction teams to work together during the renovation or constructiondesign and planning process.
The following is an overview of the latest technology in corrections that is transforming how staff manage inmates and security in jail facilities.
Biometric scanners are becoming commonplace to help ensure proper identification of inmates when being booked into jail. Equipment can scan an inmate’s eyes and fingerprints to compare them to a national database and retrieve results within seconds. Such technology can help officers ensure proper classification of inmates upon entry into a facility. X-ray machines and scanners may also be used to determine whether any contraband or illicit materials are being concealed.
Whether a staff member’s personal property, a visitor’s belongings, or a deputy’s firearm, secure storage is a must. Items can be tagged and scanned to ensure everything is accounted for and track which authorized users have access. Equipment like radios, tablets, and smartphones can be charged securely in a smart locker so they’re available and ready for the next user.
In the eyes of correctional officers, video is perhaps the most critical tool to help them maintain safety and security, both inside the detention facility and in surrounding areas.
Video surveillance of inmates augments the role that staff plays when monitoring safety and activities throughout a jail facility. A wide range of monitoring equipment has emerged on the market, including AI-based systems. These systems can detect irregular activities based on movement analysis.
Tracking systems may even use biometric facial recognition or barcoded sensors to alert staff if inmates enter a restricted area. A monitoring device can also track officers’ locations and provide fall detection. Thermal cameras that use RFID technology also help to improve safety and monitoring capabilities by identifying potentially violent situations before they erupt.
Improve Facility Design for Inmate Monitoring
When designing a jail facility, consider a podular design that allows for enhanced supervision and monitoring by eliminating blind spots. All areas are visible from a central command center, reducing the likelihood of security issues.
During the pandemic, video visitation became a lifeline for families that could no longer visit their incarcerated loved ones in person. It also became a necessary mode of communication for inmates to meet with attorneys. Incorporating confidential video conferencing capabilities into a facility’s floor plan is a must to ensure attorney-client privileges. Working with experienced detention contractors, technology providers, and construction teams that specialize in jail facilities helps to ensure both compliance and security.
Virtual court hearings also became commonplace during the pandemic, prompting the need for upgraded courtroom technology. The technology continues to be used for defendants who may have physical limitations or other circumstances that make it difficult for them to attend in person. Being intentional about technology integration helps provide optional functionality and fair proceedings.
Courtroom technology requirements may include large video screens and cameras, a clear sound system, monitors for participants, and necessary cabling and inputs. Power must be properly routed through furnishings, under flooring, and elsewhere, emphasizing the need for proper planning and design with your architect, construction team, and furniture provider.
There are other areas adjacent to jail facilities that have technology needs of their own, such as administrative offices. Emergency dispatch centers are another example. Console units have extensive electronics as part of 9-1-1 response systems. Thousands of feet of cabling need to be routed underneath flooring for easy access. Redundant backup systems also need to be configured to ensure 24/7 operation regardless of power outages, natural disasters, or other circumstances.
In areas that have a lot of electronics, and flat surfaces, it’s important to include materials that improve acoustics. Ergonomic seating is also critical for dispatchers who spend countless hours sitting behind screens and responding to emergency calls.
Proper sequencing of each construction element must align with technology planning and implementation from the beginning of a project until staff transitions to the new jail facility.
Samuels Group has extensive jail facility construction experience and has worked with numerous sheriff departments and municipalities. We specialize in construction management and general contracting in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, and understand the regulatory requirements for each state as well as complex technology integration needs. Our planning team also assists with referendum planning for states that require voter buy-in, ensuring that constituents are fully informed before heading to the polls. Our furniture solutions team focuses on solutions that are efficient, flexible, durable, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars. The result is an ideal workplace environment where employees will love to work and thrive!
Access our Guide to Jail Construction Planning to learn more about the process, and contact our team to explore potential next steps for renovating or constructing a new facility.