How Correctional Facilities Can Keep the Coronavirus at Bay with...
Govciooutlook

How Correctional Facilities Can Keep the Coronavirus at Bay with Technology?

Catalina Joseph, Gov CIO Outlook | Monday, December 28, 2020

With a digital management system through a mobile device, each person can monitor and order their meals, display menus, manage their medications, and so on. All such requests and interactions can be exchanged with each staff member in real-time.

FREMONT, CA: Technology advancement has created numerous resources to promote the administration of prisons and the rehabilitation of prisoners. Remote court hearings, video visitation systems, and electronic file management systems are well developed and increasingly popular in some regions' prison. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic forced prison systems to rely on existing technology and implement new tools to respond to the pandemic.

Keeping the Virus Out

Due to the quality of correctional facilities, with many people inhabiting and working in closed environments, keeping the virus out of prison walls is vital. As part of these measures, portable temperature measurement devices have been adapted for visitors, employees, and prisoners alike in many countries.

One country introduced an infrared portal, through which each person had to pass before entering the prison. Similar instruments were installed within the facilities to measure the person's temperature quickly and efficiently. Those with elevated temperature (as a symptom of COVID-19) were refused entry to the facility or were placed in quarantine or isolated from the rest of the prison population in the case of internal monitoring. Another country implemented robots to monitor the temperature of inmates, minimizing interaction between workers and detainees. Disinfection sprayers, air sterilizers, and high-temperature steam generators were also used.

For the first time, video-visiting schemes have been implemented across prison facilities and on a wide scale. What used to be impossible was now possible suddenly. Various strategies have been devised worldwide to make contact with the outside world possible for people in prison. Many video calling applications have penetrated the prison world. One state has already equipped its prisons with a telephone in each cell but broadened this with several laptops' configuration for video visits.

Physical Contact and Social Distancing

Social distancing in jails is difficult, if not impossible, in many situations. Body scanners are being implemented to eliminate physical contact to restrict body searches. In particular, the installation of such devices has seen a boom in most countries.

Technology also helps to exchange awareness. With a digital management system through a mobile device, each person can monitor and order their meals, display menus, manage their medications, and so on. All such requests and interactions can be exchanged with each staff member in real-time. Some programs also have the option of prison officers filling questionnaires about the individuals' symptoms under supervision. This aspect leads to less physical contact but also fewer mistakes.

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