This article presents an overview of some of the latest technologies to be implemented in the Nation's prisons and jails in the areas of security and surveillance, video technologies, the automation of management tasks, communication, and identification.
New video technologies include telemedicine, which enables doctors to diagnose inmates remotely through the use of real-time videos, and video-conferencing technology to reduce the number of inmates transferred to court for routine hearings. Technologies applicable in the security and surveillance of inmates include hair analysis, which is a more accurate method for assessing inmates' drug use, tracking transmitters that monitor inmates' location, and explosive/drug detectors. The automation of management tasks includes the use of a computer interface for scheduling and personnel databases, an automated system that allows visitors to prisons and jails to call and schedule dates and times for visits, and a system that provides kiosk reporting technology and automated interviews of probationers. In the area of communication, personal alarms are designed to provide a higher degree of safety for correctional officers who need immediate backup in an emergency anywhere in a facility. In the area of identification, "smart card" technology is used in identification cards that contain embedded computer chips which electronically store inmates' personal identification and medical information. This should improve the continuity of medical care and patient medication compliance.