Prisons throughout America adopt technology, but technological advance not always beneficial

Throughout the United States, prisons have been moving rapidly to modernize. Many innovations in the way that prisons operate have occurred over the last 100 years. These innovations have made prisons far safer, more humane and more conducive to actual rehabilitation of those incarcerated within their walls.


Although some of the older prisons still in operation, such as Folsom, in the state of California, are considered badly outdated by today’s standards, many of these institutions were state-of-the-art in their day, representing huge strides in the administration of criminal justice. Folsom prison was one of the first prisons in the world to become totally electrified, a situation that allowed for radically increased safety for both inmates and staff. It was also one of the first prisons in the United States to adopt industrial vocational programs, giving inmates real world to occupy their time, as well as the ability to develop marketable skills that they could use upon release.


Later innovations included electronically controlled locks and central monitoring guard stations. Improvements in inmate communications systems, including the ability of inmates to place face-to-face video visitation calls from their own cells, have increased safety, strengthened families and created strong incentives that keep inmates out of trouble. The most modern prisons being constructed today are capable of being run 100-percent remotely, removing prison staff completely from the most dangerous situations, such as riots and out-of-control inmates.


But one direction in which the march of technology has led the U.S. prison system has not been beneficial. The introduction of highly compact, cheap cell phones has proven to be one of the greatest threats to institutional order that the U.S. prison system has ever faced. These devices can now be bought for just a few dollars at nearly any convenience store in the country, making their widespread proliferation throughout the nation’s prison system all but inevitable.


These cheap cell phones have been used by dangerous criminal gangs to carry out major criminal conspiracies and generally undermine the safety and security of both the institutions where they are incarcerated and the public at large. Contraband phones have been used to order the intimidation of witnesses, carry out large-scale drug deals and even order the assassinations of prison staff. They have proven to be a scourge upon the public order.


Now, Securus Technologies, one of the nation’s leading provider of inmate communications services, has developed a system that is capable of stopping contraband cellphones cold. The Wireless Containment System has a proven track record of 100-percent effectiveness in blocking calls placed from illegal cellular devices throughout the nation’s prisons. Where the WCS has been deployed, it has virtually eliminated the threat caused by illegal cellular phones and other devices.