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Managing Identities in Corrections

Streamlining Facility Administration Through Biometric Integration with Your JMS

Imagine how much easier day-to-day operations in your correctional facility or jail would be if you could bring up all relevant information about an inmate in an instant by simply having them touch a finger to a handheld biometric reader. No paper files, no face sheets, no need to access a distant terminal—and absolutely no way for inmates or unauthorized personnel to access private information. Imagine if access to restricted areas was controlled by that same technology, with every action meticulously logged for easy auditability. That puts a whole new spin on “information at your fingertips,” right?

If you think what I’ve described sounds like a hypothetical prison of the future, you’d be surprised. All of that functionality is available right now through the extensive technical enablement capabilities of fingerprint biometrics paired with your JMS/RMS. And while the fingerprint readers of today are advanced, durable, and efficient, they are also more affordable than you might expect. In fact, they’re firmly within reach for facilities looking to bring processes and procedures into the 21st century.

You probably have some questions, so allow me to address what may be on your mind:

fingerprint biometrics

Why fingerprint biometrics?

Yesterday’s methods of access control and identification methods are notoriously easy to spoof. Sure, wily inmates may be able to create convincing ID-cards from toothpaste and paint, but faking a fingerprint is a totally different proposition—especially with today’s high-resolution biometric capture technology. Since modern devices can detect even sophisticated attempts to hoodwink the system, it’s highly unlikely that any inmate would ever be able to pull it off.

In the previous two blogs, I’ve explained how obtaining a positive identity through fingerprint biometrics can be an advantage in dangerous situations, help corrections officers break free from frustrating workflows involving black-and-white face sheets, and cut down on liability issues. But one advantage of fingerprint biometrics is even simpler: a scan is quick and can be performed on a handcuffed, incapacitated, disguised, or even grievously injured inmate to obtain a positive ID. Badly beaten faces, beards, or cosmetic trickery can confound visual checks—but not a fingerprint capture device.

Another plus? Fingerprint biometrics can save your facility an enormous amount of money over time—especially as access control for significant areas of expense like foodservice. At mealtimes, inmates who scan a finger before getting a tray won’t be able to claim they haven’t eaten and get a second meal. A biometric finger swipe can also keep unauthorized inmates out of food prep areas to help cut down on thousands of dollars’ worth of food theft per month.


What information can I bring up from a fingerprint?

You won’t believe what’s possible when state-of-the-art biometric enablement becomes a part of your correctional facility or jail. A quick finger swipe can pull up everything you may need to know about an inmate, including:

  • Photo
  • Bunk or cell assignment
  • Demographics
  • Program or work assignment
  • Release date or transport orders
  • Last check-in
  • Last meal
  • Over the counter medication tracking
  • Personal or state-issued inventory

Think of how much control you would be able to administer with this volume of information! Assorted colors could also be associated with a fingerprint to help quickly display permissions and restrictions (gate pass, work hours, etc.). In the traditional way of doing things, it can take several days for records to reflect a revoked gate pass after an inmate has been written up and has had privileges taken away. Plus, most facilities are still using printed face sheets for verification. That means a considerable liability risk if an unauthorized inmate gets outside and commits a crime or escapes. Biometrics closes that gap by making the verification process foolproof and quick.

Making relevant inmate information and management functionality readily available in one place through biometrics is a form of dashboarding. Ultimately, dashboarding through biometrics has the potential to make administering inmates easier while simultaneously conserving CO time and safeguarding sensitive inmate information. Win, win, win.

corrections facility

I get how it can be used during emergencies, but how will biometric integration help me on a day-to-day basis?

Since biometrics delivers positive identity as well as leaving detailed logs, it’s a natural fit for access control and can verify security logs or check-ins for:

  • Broom closets
  • Segregation checks
  • Post assignments
  • 30-minute security checks

Biometrics can streamline access to medical information too, supporting inmate health and safety with the bonus of an auditable action log for:

  • Medication tracking
  • Doctor visits
  • SOS checks
  • Doctor and nurse bedside visits

To illustrate the potential here, think of the thousands of pills prison nurses distribute daily, usually by checking against a list of names, photos, and DC numbers. Where I worked, it was common to see psych-3 or above inmates “sell” their access to psychotropic medication by giving similar-looking inmates their DC numbers. Nurses just trying to get through their lists shouldn’t have to carry all the burden of getting a positive ID. Biometrics would make verification quick and easy—and keep mind-altering meds out of unauthorized inmate hands.

On a macro level, making day-to-day procedures more efficient and eliminating room for error is how you free up CO time to perform essential tasks—like keeping an eye on the population. As inefficiencies pile up, the chances that unruly inmates will take advantage and create a dangerous situation increase. Nip it in the bud with a well-oiled administrative machine.


How can my facility benefit from biometric integration on the administrative side?

Let’s start with one of the simplest but most important forms of access control: the computer password. If you’ve got an office full of sticky notes reading “1234$” or “ilovemom1,” you’re a security breach in the making. More secure passwords are harder to remember, which means more sticky notes (or continual resets). That’s where biometric readers come in. Secure logins take one second and leave a detailed record, putting them head-and-shoulders above the alternative. However, biometrics can do so much more for your facility, including:

  • Tracking armory check in and out for full auditability and inventory verification
  • Monitoring officer training or certifications to verify access to sensitive information or restricted areas
  • Enabling emergency tracking of inmates and COs

What’s possible depends on where you are with your current JMS, but you’d be surprised at how flexible and easy-to-implement biometric solutions can be.

Interested in learning more about the possibilities for your correctional facility or jail? Visit or email us.

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