Correctional Facilities have been under enormous strain due to the increase in the kinds of crime. New legislations are made regularly increasing the varieties of the crimes that need correctional settings. The addition of capacity to correctional facilities has not kept up with the pace of growth in crime. Essentially the man power requirement to implement the measures involved in correctional facilities across the nation has been a challenge that the law makers have been dealing with for the last couple of decades.
Increasing efficiency without resorting to drastic increase in recruitment is the solution to this enduring problem. The first and the most trustworthy solution to this problem is the increasing use of Technology to complement the efforts of criminal justice organizations in implementing their correctional measures. Technology has been proven to improve the output of labor in almost all settings in any industry or organization. Therefore, the benefits of including technology initiatives to make correctional facilities better is a proven argument. I believe that the use of Technology has always occurred in two fashions
1. Devising ways and means to use existing and available technology to increase the process efficiency. 2. Custom designing technology with a clearly defined road map to Process efficiency Correctional facilities have long suffered due to the trial and error method used in acquiring and implementing technology that is made for completely different purposes and trying to adapt them to suit their needs. It is in this area that Technology Transfer Committee (TTC), a key wing of California Department of Corrections (CDC) has been making significant contributions.
The essential gains that have resulted from this process change is that the correctional facilities are no longer passive observers of technological advances in related or unrelated fields. The proactive role in evaluating the existing technology and recommending the technology that needs to be custom-designed based on the specs collated by TTC through its members from various layers of correctional setting and its interactions with similar facilities of FBI and New York Department of Correctional Services has led to establishing a proper basis for adoption of newer technologies in correctional facilities across the nation.
The in depth analysis done in terms of cost-benefit ratios of various technologies have resulted in effective allocation of budget. According to Larry Cothran, (as mentioned in Corrections today) One of the most far-reaching proposals examined and approved by the TTC is a new electrified fence being installed at most prisons throughout California. Typically, the fence has a one-year payback (i. e. , the cost of design and construction is made up after a year of savings in salaries and benefit costs). The CDC expects the fence to save $25.
5 million per year in staffing costs from the deactivation of perimeter towers at 20 prisons where fences have been or are being constructed. (p. 3). However, I think, it is important to not the voices of caution like Brendan Maguire and Polly Radosh who argue in their “The Past, Present, and Future of American Criminal Justice” that inclusion of technology in correctional setting might “create fresh incentive to expand correctional capacity that will erode initial savings”(p. 208). Besides the extension of probationary correctional setting to home confinement etc might become constitutional issues such as invasion of privacy.
But the inclusion of technology to improve process efficiency as well as productivity of correctional system is inevitable. One area of correctional setting that can immediately embrace the best of technology is the correctional education which right now lags behind conventional education systems and can become a key element in improving the success rate of correctional philosophy across the country. References Maguire, Brendan & Radosh, Polly F. (1996). The Past, Present, and Future of American Criminal Justice. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.