Video Surveillance Cameras Protect More Than Staff at Correctional Facilities

In the corrections space, inmate protection has become a priority for governments and legislative bodies. Where video surveillance was once used primarily to protect staff, today it is used to protect inmates as well. For example, courts are mandating that cases relating to a correctional facility must have some form of video footage to support what is being litigated. This includes cases involving excessive force, negligence, and deliberate indifference to an inmate’s medical needs.

Meeting PREA requirements using video surveillance

An important area of inmate protection is preventing rape and other sexual assaults. The United States Federal Government has established mandates that correctional facilities must comply with. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is a federal statute that focuses on protecting inmates against sexual violence.

Under the statute, correctional facilities can use video surveillance to help support violence reduction in a variety of ways. This can include using cameras to cover blind spots that are created by line-of-sight issues arising from a facility’s design. It can also be used to help meet the staffing requirements mandated by the statute. Instead of hiring more staff, a facility can use a video surveillance system to demonstrate compliance. This is an important consideration since, under the statute, facilities must develop and document staffing plans to adequately protect inmates.

Eliminating cross-gender viewing with video masking

PREA also includes regulations around who can view video footage. It stipulates that facilities cannot intermingle genders, which means that male staff cannot look at female inmates and vice versa. To ensure compliance, correctional facilities can deploy video cameras with advanced privacy masking capabilities, including opaque and pixelated views, in areas where inmate privacy is a priority.

Prison dormitories are an excellent example. A typical dormitory is a room with beds and a shower area. The shower area doesn’t have doors or curtains, so the entire dormitory is open. To effectively protect inmates while also maintaining their privacy and prohibiting cross-gender viewing, correctional facilities can use video cameras that offer a variety of masking techniques with various shapes.

Of course, there are instances where someone must view the unmasked footage. This means it’s especially important that correctional facilities deploy video surveillance technology that supports software permissions. This helps ensure that only authorized personnel are able to fully view either live or recorded video. Going beyond permissions and access rights for operators, when using a VMS like Hanwha Techwin’s Wisenet WAVE, an audit trail is preserved showing what users have viewed and when. This adds an additional dimension that keeps operators accountable for their actions when monitoring inmates.

Another area of concern is interview rooms. These are spaces where attorneys or investigators meet with inmates. As a general rule, you do not want two people in an interview room. One or three are fine, but two, especially if it’s a male investigator and a female inmate, is, according to PREA, against regulations. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, correctional facilities can deploy video cameras that offer people counting analytics.

Using this technology, a facility can establish a virtual line at the interview room door and set up a camera to count how many people enter and exit the space. Using people counting analytics, the camera can determine how many people are in that small room. Then, the system can be set to send an alert if that number is two.

The importance of advanced analytics

Correctional facilities should be looking for more than just standard motion-based detection for their cameras. In addition to people counting, they also need cameras that support advanced analytics for virtual areas, virtual lines, and even object detection.

A good use case is a control station inside a unit. A facility doesn’t want inmates to gain access to the control station, so they can use video cameras with advanced analytics to establish a virtual area. The facility can create rules within the analytics that enable cameras to determine when to send an alarm. In facilities where inmates wear orange and officers wear grey, the system can be set to identify if someone in orange crosses the line and then alert officers to the presence of an inmate within the restricted area. Detecting colors of clothing is an example of the AI-based analytics available within Hanwha Techwin’s P series camera line.

Cameras with advanced analytics can also help reduce the amount of contraband in a correctional facility. Drugs, cell-phones, and weapons are absolutely forbidden in prisons, but this does not mean people don’t try to get them in. To keep contraband out, a facility can deploy thermal cameras in conjunction with high resolution single sensor or high-resolution point and zoom cameras and have all cameras running advanced motion detection analytics. Hanwha Techwin cameras have sophisticated ‘PTZ handoff’ features that allow an analytic on a fixed camera to instruct a PTZ camera to zoom in and track a subject in greater detail.

Monitoring the perimeter using cameras with advanced analytics is extremely helpful because they can be set to detect persons, not just movement. Hanwha Techwin’s AI-based cameras can easily detect the difference between a human and an animal, which can dramatically reduce the number of false alarms sent to officers. They can also detect vehicles and recognize license plates all of which can be part of a comprehensive security solution.

For correctional facilities, choosing the right video cameras is about more than securing locations. This technology is also an essential component of any facility’s efforts to ensure the safety of both inmates and staff. Find out how Hanwha Techwin solutions can help.

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About Hanwha Techwin America

Hanwha Techwin America is a subsidiary of Hanwha Corporation, a South Korea-based company. Hanwha Techwin is a leading global supplier of solutions for IP and analog video surveillance. Building on the company’s history of innovation, Hanwha Techwin America is dedicated to providing solutions with the highest levels of performance, reliability and cost-efficiency for professional security applications.

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