The Department of Prison (DOP) Administration and Reforms is tasked to maintain the security of the prisoners, provide education/training for rehabilitation, secure their human rights, and generally improve infrastructure and facilities within jails. Technology can help facilitate efficient daily operations and at the same time expedite strategic management decisions of the DOP through establishment of data bases that are integrated with the judicial system. This could be done through independently operated systems at every prison facility. Each such system is designed to work seamlessly with the others, providing the administration with additional efficiencies. Having a common central database supporting institutions, community based corrections and field offices, allows the executive management to make more informed decisions on how to improve offender re-entry initiatives, reduce recidivism and improve operational efficiencies. Furthermore, the system can be designed to support sharing of information between agencies such as Public Safety and Court Information Systems.

All systems would be ideally delivered from a cloud with the client workstation using a standard browser to access the system. The correctional operations and systems’ infrastructure can be built or commonly shared thus leveraging DOP’s existing infrastructure, or utilising a secure cloud or a combination of both. There are standard monitoring and data auditing guidelines such as SSAE-16 SOC I Type II that can be applied.

Data can be accessed through handheld devices (PDAs and smartphones) allowing officers to access latest information directly from the cloud. This improves officer’s decision making while away from their desk as well as safety for community corrections staff.Some of the key features that can be built into the system are given below:

Offender Funds Administration.

Automated transactions reduce time and enforce consistent accounting processes. Many non-productive tasks such as printing and filing daily transaction journals are eliminated.

Kitchen Operations.

The system reduces personnel time needed for purchasing, inventory management and sales processes.

Inmate Enablement.

This system provides inmates with tools that will prove vital to their transition back into society. They not only expose inmates to living and work skills utilised in today’s world, but also facilitate selfmanagement skills that will prove important as they reintegrate into society.

Electronic Health Records.

To assist the medical staff to make more informed assessments and diagnoses.

Case Management.

A central information system designed to support such analytics enables the DOP to make more informed decisions and be more responsive to the legislature and other agencies. Case Management enables agencies to have a centralised system that provides a comprehensive view of offenders and dramatically improves employee effectiveness to increase personnel safety and reduce offender recidivism.

Investigation System.

Security and efficiency at correctional institutions require advanced methods of organising and communicating all types of information. It is important to provide correctional agencies with the means to store, analyse and disseminate the massive amounts of data collected in institutions every day. An Investigation system replaces outdated methods of record keeping with a streamlined, highly automated system that manages data in all of the following areas:

• Security threat group membership and roles.
•Managing and protecting confidential informants.
• Incidents reporting and tracking.
• Prevention of prison rape &use of force documentation.
• Evidence items and subpoenas for these items.
•Mechanism to collect general intelligence.
• Cases (investigative and noninvestigative).
• Referrals of cases and incidents to other agencies.
• Breathalyser and urinalysis management.

These elements facilitate better information sharing across the entire agency and all authorised staff.

Intelligence System.

Detecting and preventing unlawful inmate activity is one of the most important functions of any prison administration. Crimes committed within jail premises have often proved to be the bane of our jails thus rendering all their efforts ineffective.

While the possibilities are infinite as are the benefits, it is important to build the right perspective and take concrete steps in that direction, even if they are baby steps one at a time. The first step however would be central level decision making for uniformity and consistency in implementation across all facilities at the same time.

An entrepreneur with rich global exposure and distinct understanding of cutting edge technologies, Mr Parag Agarwal is a leading expert on ‘smart cities, urban planning, emergency response and disaster management’. He is an acknowledged thought leader, speaker and author.

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