Prisoner Monitoring System for ODRC

Problem: The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) requested Wright Technology Network (WTN) help develop technology for monitoring prisoner work crews. The use of prisoner work crews is of high priority to ODRC (and numerous corrections departments in other states) and enjoys considerable public approval. A typical use of prisoner work crews in Ohio concerned the recent flooding in southern Ohio. These work crews were very effective in various projects such as building dikes. Many more prisoners could have been used except for the lack of enough corrections officers that were needed to supervise the work crews. Electronic monitoring would have at least doubled the numbers of crews that could have been put to work.

Mr. Richard L. Swain of the Bureau of Information and Technology Services, ODRC, has prepared a performance specification for the required system and has determined that the technology needed is currently available. ODRC does not have the funds to develop such a system and has had difficulty in interesting industry in developing the system. The only company ODRC has been able to interest in putting a system together is a company called Visonic Inc. which has its headquarters in Israel. Visonic manufactures a variety of security products and systems drawing on technology developed for the Israeli military. ODRC requested WTN assistance in determining if there was any federal technology which could be employed for such a system.

Solution: WTN Technology Specialists met with navigation and communications experts at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to discuss the problem. Meetings were held with the Sensors Directorate and Information Directorate. These experts identified several technologies that had been developed by the United States Air Force (USAF) and which could prove useful for the prisoner monitoring system. More specifically, they identified four contractors that had developed these technologies. WTN subsequently contacted the four contractors and two expressed enough interest to send engineers to Columbus for detailed discussions with WTN and ODRC officials.

One of the companies, NOVA Engineering, prepared a white paper describing a system which could satisfy the ODRC performance and cost guidelines.  Unfortunately, NOVA determined that they could not afford to develop the system without outside funding support and has decided not to pursue the project at this time.  Another company called Security Link from Ameritech was subsequently contacted following a lead from a home arrest equipment manufacturer.  Security Link is a major US provider of electronic monitoring equipment and markets a product called a Group Monitoring Unit (GMU 2000I) manufactured by a Israeli company Elmo Tech.  Contact was made with Security Link marketing personnel and a briefing on the GMU was arranged for the Ohio Correctional Technology Network (OCTN) in February 1999.


  • The primary benefit to the ODRC and other corrections agencies is that the electronic monitoring technology permits more prisoners to be used on work crews with fewer oversight corrections personnel.
  • The public will develop a higher approval rating for the use of prisoners for constructive work.

Current Status:

  • OCTN will assess the Security Link technology and determine its suitability for use in the ODRC.  If the assessment is favorable, it may be appropriate to perform a Beta test of the GMU system at one or more prisons.
If you have any questions about this Technical Assistance Project or are interested in getting more information about Wright Technology Network and technology transfer, please contact Jim Singer (937) 253-0217 or crada@wtn.org.

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