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Making Corrections Safer With Technology

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2008
2 pages
Publication Series

This paper describes two projects funded by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that involve the use of technology to help prevent violence and disruption in correctional institutions.


One project is creating toothbrushes and razors that inmates cannot fashion into weapons. Using a type of urethane rubber, a research team has created a toothbrush that looks and performs like a household toothbrush, but it bends on contact if jabbed like a weapon. When heated, the thermosetting material chars and disintegrates, making it impossible to embed metal objects into it. The research team is also developing a modification for a commercially available razor blade so it is safe. The blade is sliced through several points from its back edge almost to its sharp edge. When bonded to a urethane housing, the blade cannot be removed in one piece. It can only be peeled off in tiny pieces. Discussions are underway to mass produce these items. The second project involves the development of computer software that can assist in predicting whether a correctional facility will experience a disruption. The project team, which involves the Florida Department of Corrections, is sifting through commonly collected data in order to identify trends and patterns that can signal an emergency problem in prisons. Potentially significant factors for institutional disruptions are being assessed, in order to identify the smallest and simplest collection of factors that, separately or collectively, predict disruptive acts. The outcome will be software that will enable facility administrators to predict risks for prison escapes, prison rapes, staff assaults, and the use of force, facilitating preemptive steps for reducing the factors linked to these security breaches.

Date Published: February 1, 2008