Tag Archives: mobile device

The Future Prison

An article about the deployment of email and other electronic services via kiosks in prisons in Singapore. The problem with the use of kiosks is that you create the same access, prisoner movement, and queuing issues that currently exist with prison payphones. The meshDETECT secure prison cell phone is a much more efficient and cost effective means to deploy and deliver electronic content to detainees.

Corresponding with family members electronically, instead of using pen and paper, could soon become a reality for prison inmates here.

Over the next few years, the prison authorities are exploring the option of allowing inmates to type out their letters, which will then be sent by the prison staff to the intended recipients via an electronic portal – as part of its plans to move with the times and tap on technology to enhance the rehabilitation process for the inmates.

Singapore Prison Service Senior Assistant Director (Technology) Kuai Ser Leng said: “I tell the staff … I don’t even write letters anymore – when is the last time you wrote letters with pen and paper?

“Almost consistently, they tell me the same answer (that) they can’t remember the last time they wrote a letter. We email, we use SMS, we use Whatsapp these days.”

Apart from allowing inmates to go paperless while corresponding with the world outside, the prison authorities are also exploring ideas such as giving the inmates access to e-books and e-learning opportunities.

Currently, family members of inmates can book visits online. One project that has already been successfully piloted is the use of self-service kiosks, via which prisoners can submit their requests such as longer visiting time and a change in diet. Previously, inmates convey their requests verbally to their prison supervisors.

The inmates can also use the kiosks to track the status of their requests or check the availability of new courses.

To build rapport between prison officers and the inmates, a mobile device is also available for the officers to, for instance, access instantly the bio-data of an inmate instead of having to check it on the computer in the office.

On the device, Senior Prison Officer Roy Phang said: “It allows us to find out more about the inmates immediately as they could be new admissions. We are also able to key in observations at the point where we observe certain behavioural changes in the inmates.”

Mr Kuai told TODAY that there are plans to increase the features of the self-service kiosks, including allowing inmates to check on their privileges.

The prison authorities saw the use of the kiosks as an opportunity for inmates to familiarise themselves with technology – which would also help them assimilate back into society upon their release.

Singapore After-Care Association Director Prem Kumar welcomed the adoption of technology in the prisons.

Not only does it increase efficiency, it also empowers the inmates, Mr Kumar said. “As long there is an effort to outreach and empower those who are not tech savvy, that will be ideal.”

The prison authorities are also tapping on technology to improve the security of the premises.

Currently, there are thousands of surveillance cameras installed at Changi Prison Complex. The authorities are studying the use of video content analysis to detect abnormal behaviour exhibited by the inmates by incorporating video intelligence into the existing surveillance system.

They are also looking to use audio analytics to act as ears on the ground to detect aggressive voices. This could provide early warning to the staff for appropriate intervention.


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Social Media Helps Prisoners Illegally Communicate

Using contraband cell phones to communicate via social media is increasingly a problem in prisons around the country. Cell phones equipped with internet access and cameras give prisoners the ability to access and post updates and images on Facebook and Twitter. As this article states, cell phones are “contraband that can fetch $1,000 in prison, or $100 to borrow for one call.”

The meshDETECT secure prison cell phone solution blocks internet and camera access on its custom cell phone devices.

Damon Valery logged his holiday wishes early last year, in a Facebook posting Dec. 1. “This is the worst part of the year 4 me cause of the holidays,” Valery wrote, “so i’m saying happy holidays now cause i don’t know when i’ll b back!”

Valery had been serving a 25-year-to-life sentence since 1999, and was transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad last August. He was convicted of killing Dante Jones, his girlfriend’s 2-year-old nephew.

On March 6, Valery was found unresponsive in his cell and transported to Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, where he died shortly after. The prison’s investigative service unit is looking into his death as a possible homicide.

“Compared 2 some of the madness that’s going on in the world my situation ain’t that bad,” Valery wrote on his Facebook wall April 1 last year, “because somewhere, somebody lost their life or least didn’t get 2 eat!!”

That harsh irony is exaggerated by the fact that Valery’s affectionate, if sporadic, posts to friends and relatives were illegal. He posted using a mobile device – contraband that can fetch $1,000 in prison, or $100 to borrow for one call.

Communications in prison are closely watched. Phone calls are capped at 15 minutes, recorded and interrupted by a voice alert reminding interlocutors they’re on the phone with an inmate. Similarly, all outgoing mail is stamped to identify its origination point, so recipients can discard unwanted letters.

“A lot of people would choose not to talk to an inmate,” Salinas Valley State Prison spokesman Lt. Michael Nilsson says. “I think it’s important that people know who they’re talking to. It’s not the same as on the streets, where you meet someone at a night club.”

But cell phone use in California prisons has been rapidly rising, with 1,400 phones discovered in 2007 and more than 15,000 found in 2011. In response, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 26 late last fall, making it a misdemeanor to possess a phone in prison, and to smuggle one in.

Prison staff continue to conduct random contraband searches to detect phones, and deploy dogs trained to sniff out prohibited items, including cell phones.

Law enforcement officers on the outside are also keeping an increasingly watchful eye on social media. Where police once prowled the streets for crime tips, they can now surf the web.

“It’s on a catch-as-catch-can basis,” says Salinas Interim Police Chief Cassie McSorley. “We’re not making cases every week off of social media, but it’s just one more tool that’s being used.”

Salinas police regularly watch YouTube videos posted by Salinas gangs, but got one of its most serious crime tips via Facebook last week.

Salinas City Councilwoman Gloria De La Rosa’s 23-year-old son, Gabriel Reyes, was arrested March 5 after Gang Task Force members saw a gun for sale posted on his publicly visible Facebook wall. He’s been charged with unlicensed sale of a firearm, marijuana possession, a probation violation and carrying a concealed weapon.

McSorley says social media hasn’t changed what cops do, but it has affected how they do it, and how fast. “We have to adapt our methodology and investigation techniques,” she says. “We used to meet people in a dark alley. Now everybody has a cell phone.”


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