By Marcus Smith, Contributing Editor, RFIDOperations
(This article originally ran in 2005 issue of RFIDOperations)
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio—At the minimum security Ross Correctional Facility in Chillicothe, Ohio, prisoners are fitted with active UHF wristbands so they can not only tell guards where they are at any given moment, but where they have been.
TSI PRISM division of Alanco Technologies Inc., is in the middle of a $415,000 pilot project for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Corrections at Ross, with the potential of introducing the tracking system at 33 ODRC facilities housing 44,000 prisoners, says Greg Oester, president of the division.
The TSI PRISM system has been installed at Ross and evaluated since July, according to Warden Patrick Hurley, with a final determination of its effectiveness scheduled for June. The system can track the whereabouts of up to 350 uniquely identified prisoners. Each prisoner’s bracelet comprises a resilient plastic-encased active RFID tag with a wristband made of layers of plastic reinforced with fiberglass. Any attempt to remove it or damage it results in an alarm. The range is far greater than just a few feet, says Alanco, (it will not specify the exact range for security reasons). Warden Hurley says that antennas for detecting prisoners are placed strategically in dining and recreation areas, passages and other parts of the prison. Five users have access to the central monitoring of data.
Warden Hurley says that the system allows immediate detection of a prisoner being out of place and allows historical data recording to monitor prisoner association(s) in case there’s a need to backtrack from an incident.
Alanco is installing software modifications to stretch the capabilities of the installed hardware, says Oester, and to meet client needs. Further, Alanco is using the Ross site as a proof of the capability of its system to operate in a multi-story facility.
Oester says the system can be configured to offer additional features that capitalize on RFID technology. In an Illinois facility, the RFID system is used not only to monitor prisoner location, but to detect and record which prisoners get special dietetic meals, helping to reduce grievances when diabetics, for instance, fail to get the right food. The same concept could be applied to medications. Further, the system could be used to store commissary credits, which should make administration of prisoner earnings and rewards easier.