This paper describes how the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is assisting in the development, assessment, planning, and implementation of technology for use in corrections.
NIJ supported the creation of the Northeast Technology Product Assessment Committee (NTPAC) in 2000, which brings together partners from 13 Northeast States in quarterly meetings of senior correctional practitioners, who identify and assess emerging technology products and prototypes with the potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of correctional operations. Due to NTPAC's success, NIJ recently created similar groups to serve the Southeast and West. Plans call for the three groups to collaborate in identifying best practices and discuss technology needs and priorities for corrections. This paper also describes two NIJ-supported technology advances for corrections well underway, one that facilitates risk prediction for correctional facilities and one that can facilitate the detection and defeat of inmate cell phones. In the area of risk prediction, the Florida Department of Corrections has been involved in creating a correctional crime-mapping and information-management system that monitors daily facility operations and identifies trends, patterns, hotspots, and areas of concern that assist in preventing inmate disruptions and disorders. Called COTAS (Correctional Operational Trend Analysis System), the system uses archived data to detect patterns in such areas as inmate health and conduct. In the effort to develop technology that can detect and defeat inmate cell-phone use, NIJ has begun the first part of a multiphase project. The initial phase calls for a needs assessment that will obtain information and data from representatives of the cell-phone industry, law enforcement, and corrections. The project will then conduct a technical survey and gap analysis of existing cell-phone detection technology. Six corrections technology projects planned by NIJ are briefly described.
Date Published: March 1, 2008