The "Facility Surveillance and Security" industry refers to mechanisms and technologies used by prisons to track and monitor people inside incarceration and detention facilities. Incarcerated individuals have no privacy rights, being exposed to strip searches, body cavity searches, cell raids, monitoring of mail, internet access, telephone conversations, and family and attorney visits. This makes prisons and prisoners prime marketing targets for ever more invasive tracking, surveillance, and monitoring technologies by for-profit companies.
Identification Tracking Technologies
Throughout the United States, law enforcement agencies are increasingly embracing biometric technologies that use fingerprints, facial features, eye irises, tattoos, and DNA to identify people. One primary source of biometric data comes from county jails, where inmates are photographed and fingerprinted during the booking process. This technology is being deployed more widely and cheaply than ever before, and with less oversight. Mobile biometric technology includes mobile devices and apps that police use to capture and analyze people’s physical features in the field and submit that information to a central database for matching. While police deploy this technology to confirm the identity of a person during a stop, the technology captures people's biometric data and adds to biometric databases regardless of whether their identity is in question.
In 2008, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) initiated a two million dollar contract with DataWorks for a “Digital Mugshot System,” which included facial and tattoo recognition technologies. DataWorks’ system, combined with Cognitec facial recognition algorithm, is able to match a face in under 30 seconds. As of 2013, the system had more than 6.5 million booking photos and more than three million images of scars, marks, and tattoos. Between 2010 and 2013, the county sought information and proposals to expand what it called a “Multimodal Biometric Identification System” to include iris scans, DNA analysis, and voice recognition, in addition to facial and tattoo recognition. Ultimately, it decided to extend its current contract with DataWorks, signing another four-year, $2.1 million deal in February 2015.
In 2014, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation contracted Hewlett-Packard Company to design, implement, and provide ongoing support for California’s Strategic Offender Management System. The system stores and tracks information on all California currently and formerly incarcerated people. This information can be used to discriminate against formerly incarcerated persons years after their release. HP Co split in 2015. HP Enterprise handled this contract between 2015 and 2017, and it is currently managed by DXC Technology.
Monitoring Prison Grounds
Surveillance technologies are replacing traditional lock-and-key inmate tracking. Biometric and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies allow guards to track people’s locations inside facilities, and to count them using barcodes on wrist bracelets. In 2005, Arizona-based Alanco Technologies installed an RFID system in the Los Angeles County Jail. As of 2006, RFID technology was used to track more than 4,200 inmates and staff in 13 facilities in seven states.
M2SYS, a major provider of biometric technology, works with CoreCivic, the largest private corrections company in the U.S., with 67 facilities and over 92,500 beds. Through M2SYS, biometric identification software rapidly integrates within jail management software, like those provided by Digital Solutions, CISCO, and Emerald Systems, to identify new inmates and visitors and to track inmate movements throughout the facility. These tracking systems offer real-time, automatic headcounts, inmate tracking, security alerts, and event and escape notifications.
- Alanco Technologies, Inc., of Scottsdale, AZ (OTCQB: ALAN)
- DXC Technology Company, of Tysons Corner, VA (NYSE: DXC)
- Axon Enterprise, Inc., of Scottsdale, AZ (NASDAQ: AAXN)
- DataWorks Plus, of Greenville, SC (Private)
- M2SYS LLC, of Atlanta, GA (Private)