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Harnessing the Power of Technology in Institutional Corrections

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 278 Dated: December 2016
Date Published
November 2016
4 pages

This article discusses lessons learned from an evaluation of a technology (radio frequency identification device) deployed to monitor, track, and investigate inmate movements in a women's prison for the purpose of reducing sexual assaults and inmate misconduct.


Three recommendations emerged from lessons learned in this evaluation: 1) Develop a clear understanding of the rationale for the technology's implementation and use; 2) Educate users about the implementation and training requirements, so as to ensure cultural "buy-in" and full deployment; and 3) engage in early and ongoing assessment to identify and correct implementation problems and challenges as they relate to the intended impact. The evaluation of the RFID technology in the Northeast Pre-Release Center, a women's prison in Cleveland, OH, encountered many problems in its implementation, which led to lessons learned and the aforementioned three recommendations for conducting an evaluation of the implementation and impact of technology in institutional corrections. From a researcher's perspective, accurate documentation of the technology's use is necessary. Because prison management personnel failed to monitor and record data and information on how the technology's implementation was proceeding, it took several months for evaluators to determine that the RFID system was inoperable and corrections officers had stopped equipping new inmates with bracelets. In addition, unbeknownst to the evaluators, the prison had never fully implemented the technology's exclusionary zone features. Early and ongoing assessments by prison managers of the technology's intended implementation and impact would have documented these failures prior to evaluators' time-consuming determination of implementation failures that should have been noted prior to the formal evaluation. 1 table and 7 notes

Date Published: November 1, 2016