Increasingly, biometric technology is making its presence known in today’s modern day correctional facilities. The public safety sector is utilizing biometrics to:
- Comprehensively manage inmates from intake to release
- Help increase security
- Speed up visitor and inmate check-in and check-out
- Verify identities before release
- Improve inmate accountability
Accurate inmate identification at each step of their incarceration is paramount to the success of any Offender Management System (OMS). From initial intake to charges, sentencing, property, housing, medical, meal planning, scheduling and temporary release, biometric fingerprint technology is exceptional because it boosts security, creates efficiencies and eliminates paperwork which leads to increased staff productivity. By establishing a biometric identification system through fingerprint recognition, facilities can breathe easier knowing that the true identity of an inmate is never an issue and that the specter of disastrous consequences resulting from false identification has been negated.
How Can Biometrics Help?
- Security – Implementation of biometric technology eliminates the misidentification of inmates and visitors leaving no doubt about an individual’s identity. No more swapping bracelet ID’s, inadvertently granting access to unauthorized individuals, distributing medications to the wrong inmate or releasing inmates by mistake through forgery or mistaken identity. Biometrics virtually eliminates liability inherent with identity management in public safety.
- Efficiencies – Biometrics can also be a major time saver. Individual identification is fast and accurate compared to antiquated systems that require cumbersome administrative procedures that clog the check-in and check-out process. By saving time and streamlining tasks, biometrics opens the door for management and staff to reallocate their time and resources to other projects and initiatives and remove the unnecessary burdens that the old system may have created.
- Tracking – By establishing biometric check-in stations throughout the facility, biometrics also helps to accurately track inmate movements with precision and accuracy. Biometric technology leaves no doubt about the location of any individual at any time and assists with creating a facility roadmap which can in turn be used for real time reporting, planning, or design purposes.
- Logistics – Biometric systems are easy to use, require little to no maintenance and can be up and running in a very short period of time. Biometric readers easily plug into PC USB ports for quick set up and mobility throughout the facility. This mobility renders biometric systems a versatile tool that can rapidly be moved wherever it is needed as conditions warrant, or established as a standalone, static identification station.
The Time Is Now To Adopt Biometric Technology
Due to increasing crime rates, correctional facilities are finding it difficult to securely manage the ever-growing number of prisoners and their identification records.
Proper identification of inmates prior to release is critical to public safety, and often times, over-populated and under-staffed facilities may release unauthorized inmates due to human error or to inmates swapping ID bracelets with other inmates. Biometric fingerprint identification solutions provide a fail-safe way to properly manage correctional facilities. By placing biometric readers at key areas throughout a facility, the OMS can track inmate movements throughout the day and inmate whereabouts can be determined at any time, which increases inmate accountability and in turn, increases overall facility security and safety.
This post was submitted by John Trader, Communications Specialist with M2SYS Technology, a leading biometrics provider for the Corrections Industry.
[Ed. Note - Each month we will feature a guest blog post from corrections professionals and industry thought leaders. This month, Mr. Greg Whitaker, Product Marketing Coordinator at Digital Solutions / Inmate Telephone, Inc., writes about the leadership.]
Hi, I’m Greg Whitaker, one of the individuals in the marketing department at DSI. I am currently involved in the Blair County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Blair County program which provides local business people with the opportunity to improve their leadership skills and learn how to become servant leaders within the community.
The most recent session included Dr. Evan Offstein, a graduate of West Point, Central Michigan Universityand Virginia Tech. He has written several books on leadership and presented us with multiple concepts that struck home right away. While there were many take-aways from the talk, here are some that I feel will apply particularly well in a corrections environment:
1. Leaders should have a 1 on 1 relationship with each person working under them. Get to know the people working under you. You may have ten people under you and see them as a group of ten, but each of them views the relationship as between you as their manager and them. A one to one relationship.
2. Effective leaders give second chances to their employees who work hard. Everyone fails sooner or later. While effective leaders do not welcome failure, they do realize that these failures provide a “teachable” moment where they can work with their employee to improve them and prevent future problems.
3. Don’t create an environment that does not allow for errors. A zero defect environment does not allow team members to feel safe with taking risks, so your team remains stagnant and cannot grow. Team members become unwilling to help others and spend more and more time with cover yourself types of activities.
4. Leaders do not tolerate ethics violations. Simple mistakes happen. Ethical violations are far more serious and an unethical team member can ruin your team. You will need to correct ethics violations right away. This may trump #2 and #3 depending on the violation!
5. Make your actions match your words. As my father always said, “Your actions speak louder than your words.” Make sure that you walk your talk. Nothing is a bigger morale killer than preaching one thing and doing something else. If you have a plan and a reason and you stick with it, situations will not dictate your responses.
6. Leaders develop their team members. You have to continually work to improve your team. Each person has something to offer and each have their own capacity for growth. Use both to make both them and your team better.
So, now it's your turn. If you're in a leadership position at a correctional facility, how do you lead for both your staff AND the inmates? Let your thoughts and opinions flow in the comment section below!!
[Ed. Note - Each month we will feature a guest blog post from corrections professionals and industry thought leaders. This month, Mr. Jim Rokosky, COO of Digital Solutions / Inmate Telephone, Inc., writes about the RFP contract process.]
So, you need a new inmate phone vendor. After consulting with legal and procurement you send your RFP or Bid to the street and the fun begins. You meet a lot of great vendors; see exciting new product and technology demos, etc. You make your selection and everyone is excited to get the project started and get all of those goodies that you were promised. The project now moves to that dreaded phase – contract negotiations. This is where I come in, along with both of our legal consul teams. Within a few weeks of what seemed like an exciting, fun adventure has turned into a grueling death march of language parsing, mistrust, and arguments over what is “reasonable”. This is the part of the process where we all get frustrated and pull our hair out. If you are involved in this routinely and on an extended basis, you will end up like me, throwing in the towel and just shaving off what little hair you have left. Does it really have to be like this? The good news is that no, it doesn’t. The even better news is that once you get the contract signed, the delivery team will show up and everyone will roll up their sleeves and start working. Hopefully, at the end of the day, you will have a really great project and even have some fun while you are at it.
You have to be asking the question by now: if the project is enjoyable before the contract phase and we are going to have fun after the contract phase, is there something we can do to improve everyone’s experience DURING the contract phase? I will suggest that there is. The problems with the contracting phase start before the contracts are even exchanged, before the product demos and RFP responses, are received and even before the RFP is released to the street. As I see it, the problem is that many inmate phone solicitations come with “one size fits all” legal requirements and a boilerplate that just doesn’t fit within the parameters of an inmate phone contract. The contract is fundamentally different from the vast majority of other public contracts. Consider that an inmate phone solicitation will result in an agreement whereby a governmental agency not only receives goods and services, but also receives a revenue stream for itself. Consider also that the inmate phone vendor will be expending significant time and money at the front of the project and then recover their cost over the next 3-5 years. This is much different than a procurement where the vendor is paid for their work as delivered and there is no revenue sharing with the agency.
OK, so these are different types of agreements, but what does it hurt to use the same boilerplate? The first most obvious problem is that the provisions required to protect both the vendor and customer are different because of the nature of the agreement. Some provisions of a contract for the purchase of goods don’t apply to a vending agreement, some provisions of an agreement to purchase goods and services conflict with an inmate phone vending agreement, and then there are other provisions and concerns that are simply missing from an agreement to purchase goods and services that need to be in an inmate phone vending agreement. The bigger problem, though, occurs when vendors are faced with responding to a bid or RFP solicitations that require a response to these requirements. Honest vendors will want to take exceptions to problematic provisions and call out other provisions that should be included in a final agreement. But most vendors have been burned in the past by responding straight up to questions like this and have found themselves being disqualified or graded very poorly by selection committees for taking exceptions. Some vendors will simply respond “agree and comply” with all requirements and then try sort things out during contract discussions – this approach usually ends up with wrong expectations and an angry customer that is frustrated with their “selected” vendor. And so the end result is that honest vendors are penalized, dishonest vendors are rewarded, and the customer ends up frustrated and confused by the contract negotiation process.
So, what do we do to fix this? The answer, in my humble opinion, is very simple. As a customer, recognize that this is an issue and resolve to help yourself by helping vendors to be comfortable responding in an open and honest fashion to your solicitations. Educate yourselves, your purchasing department, and your legal department on the differences between these types of agreements and the importance of releasing clean legal requirements in your bids and RFPs. Tailor the legal and contract requirements to the type of solicitation that you are releasing. As a vendor, provide a simple statement of your concerns and include your standard contract for the customers review. Offer to work towards a final agreement that combines elements of the customer contract and elements your contract to reach a mutually beneficial conclusion. For both vendors and customers: be honest, set realistic expectations for what needs to be in a final agreement, and be open to understanding the reasons that the other side is asking for inclusion or exclusion of different provisions in the contract.
Contracting often seems like an uphill battle but I really believe that it does not have to be. What do you think? Have your experiences been different or similar? Do you have other ideas for making the contracting process easier on all parties? Are you going gray or losing your hair over the contracting process? Leave a comment or send me an email and let me know!