I can say that technological advancements have made incarceration services easy, and the prison officials are able to execute many of their tasks efficiently than before. However, it has also created some new challenges to them which were never experienced earlier. The inmates started using the technology advancements for their hidden operations, and it adds vulnerability to the prison security and safety. Among the technology options, the advancements in the telecommunications industry are creating the biggest threat to the prison environment. I must say clearly that contraband phones are posing threats to officials as well as their family members.
The most quotable example in this regard is Robert Johnson – a former prison official from South Carolina. He was responsible for confiscating the phones of inmates at Lee Correctional Institution but experienced a fatal gun attack over a contraband package for a gang member. The incident happened in 2010, and within two weeks of seizing the phones, Johnson was attacked at his home by the friends of the gang member. The investigation showed the loopholes in prison security and access of inmates to contraband phones which they use to contact their gang members outside to attack prison officials who are trying to implement prison rules.
As far as I know, it was not the first or last of the attack towards the prison officials. However, Johnson was determined to fight against it and spoke against the uncontrolled use of contraband phones by inmates wherever he could. He started collaborating with Securus Technologies, the leading player in the prison technology environment, as a paid consultant and helped it to develop a novel Wireless Containment System. In March 2017, Johnson explained the dangers of not controlling contraband phones in prisons to FCC – the regulator – and added how technologies like Wireless Containment System is helping efficient control of such phone calls.
Per the official information, WCS is a smart technology that deploys a network-like environment over prisons and blocks all contact attempts to and from unknown as well as suspicious numbers. The initial deployment of WCS in just eight prisons in 2016 produced excellent results. It could trace and block nearly 1.7 million unauthorized call attempts during the period of 12 months from July 2016 and proved that it is a highly effective system to control contraband. Especially in the wake of Johnson’s meeting with FCC, the regulator decided to streamline the steps of adopting contraband controlling technology for prisons.
It would enable the service providers to reduce the paperwork with wireless carriers as well as prison facilities. Even Johnson applauded the decision of the regulator and said that with the lightened regulations, citizens would start asking the elected members to take steps for keeping contraband and other communication devices away from the hands of inmates.