New technology is creating improvements in the corrections field.

Author:Johnson, Charles E.

During the past three years, new technologies, such as video visitation, video arraignment, teleconferencing and telemedicine, have been implemented in the corrections field that will lead to major adjustments in the focus of inmate rehabilitation and the movement from incarceration to re-integration into the community.



During the European International Criminal Justice and Corrections Show in London, several wardens and directors of European correctional institutions attended the meetings that were held. Their questions continually referenced new technologies being implemented in prisons and jails and many were interested in the new movement in U.S. corrections toward video visitation. Their main interests centered on the need for additional avenues through which the family support system and the re-integration of inmates back into the community could be improved during the incarceration period.

Discussion was mostly about the capabilities of the new technologies being implemented in North America, especially that of video visitation system applications. Technologists reviewed how the new video visitation and video arraignment systems provide high-quality audio and video communication among inmates, lawyers, probation officers and loved ones. It was interesting that the biggest concern was the potential to eventually extend the visit back into the home and community. Jail technologists envision this technology connecting from the cell stations to remote visitation centers and eventually the home, providing systems with the potential to keep the inmate integrated in the family. The automated, trademarked Visits from Home (described later) is one such technology and technology providers are wrestling with other ways to implement these concepts. Most conventional practitioners ended their conversation with a comment that Visits from Home would be a welcomed addition to the arsenal of products for which corrections personnel have been asking.

During the past year, there have been similar discussions with corrections personnel throughout North America as well. The re-integration of inmates is of high importance to U.S. corrections, opening the door for technology to become a greater part of the future of correctional systems. It is well-known that a secured communication system for inmates that is not staff intensive must be developed in the United States. The system also must ensure that required...

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