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ACT prison to RFID tag inmates

Almost two years after announcing its intention to use RFID to track prisoners and guards alike, it has been revealed that the ACT Department of Corrective Services has signed a deal to rollout the technology.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

Almost two years after announcing its intention to use RFID to track prisoners and guards alike, it has been revealed that the ACT Department of Corrective Services has signed a deal to rollout the technology.

The Alexander Maconochie facility nearing completion

Credit: ACT Corrective Services

With the ACT's first prison ninety percent complete, the territory's Corrective Service authorities have made good on their commitment to introduce RFID technology to Australian prisons by commissioning the services of US provider Alanco and NEC Australia to install a Wi-Fi compatible TSI Prism RFID inmate tracking system within its walls.

The Alexander Maconochie centre is designed to function as an "open plan" prison, housing young offenders, male and female prisoners of varying degrees of security all within the same facility, without substantial physical security to separate each section or razor wire barriers.

"Without this technology a prison without razor wire would be far more difficult to manage," ACT Corrective Services IT manager Andreas Wullen told ZDNet.com.au.

According to Wullen, prisoners will be fitted with an RFID bracelet upon entering the facility, enabling guards to track their location every two seconds if necessary.

In a deal already exceeding AU$1 million, the RFID system will be used to monitor physical separation, and to control prisoners' movements between various sections of the prison.

"Using this technology will provide prisoners with greater freedom of movement, allowing them to go to certain sections without being escorted," said Wullen.

The system also has its uses for staff, who will be equipped with an RFID device fitted with an alarm for personal safety.

"It's important to us that the system includes a duress alarm, an alarm that staff can press when they're in trouble. If we weren't to secure this technology we would have to fit a duress system in the facility at no small cost," said Wullen.

RFID inmate tracking is already used in a number of European countries including Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as US penitentiaries in Michigan, Illinois and California.

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