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How Digital Intelligence is helping corrections facilities overcome Their Digital Data Challenges

Contraband phones are causing huge challenges for corrections agency managers worldwide by providing inmates with the perfect tool to carry out illicit activities both inside and outside of prison facilities

Detecting phones is tough, but effective countermeasures including more advanced scanning devices and the use of K-9’s to help sniff out hidden devices are all helping to curb the influx of illegal phones. Using the information found on confiscated phones is proving to be one of the most effective ways to crack down on criminal activities.

When managed properly as part of a broader Digital Intelligence strategy, confiscated phones can provide a wealth of information, allowing corrections personnel to see deep inside criminal operations to discover who the perpetrators are, who is being affected, and how widespread the network of illicit activities may be.

This is one of the primary reasons so many corrections agencies are transforming the way they conduct investigations to take full advantage of Digital Intelligence, which is the data that is extracted from digital sources and data types—smartphones, and the Cloud—and the process by which agencies access, manage, and leverage data to more efficiently run their operations.

Using Data To Stop Big Crimes

Even minor extractions can surface startling revelations:

  • Call records: Who have inmates been speaking with and what was discussed?
  • Text messages: Are directions being sent to other inmates or those on the outside to conduct illicit activities?
  • Images: What visual evidence is available? Have assaults on other prisoners been captured, which might reveal perpetrators or blind spots inside prisons where bad things are happening outside of surveillance cameras?
  • Videos: Are prisoners keeping a video record of threats or crimes being committed?
  • Social media: Are prisoners posting content that illustrates illicit activities or videos that could be damaging to corrections officials?
  • E-mails: Who have inmates been in contact with and why?
  • Apps: Are inmates using What’s App or other communications applications to conduct illicit activities?
  • Cryptocurrency data: Do their devices contain cryptocurrency wallets? Is there evidence that illicit funds are being transferred via Bitcoin? If so, those accounts may be traceable.

To transform the way they conduct investigations, corrections managers need solutions that allow them to access, manage, and analyze data to glean actionable intelligence that will drive decision-making.

Access And Management

Data gathered from confiscated phones is highly valuable, so conducting extractions to access data must be done in a forensically sound manner to ensure that:

  • No data is lost.
  • The chain of evidence is managed and secured properly.
  • Compliance is maintained and corrections managers have a clear audit trail.
  • Evidence is made court-ready.

Many facilities managers are taking advantage of Responder Kiosks that provide a single-point extraction—a photo or video clip—to expedite investigations. These tools take little training to master and can work as a force multiplier, allowing frontline officers to shoulder some of the investigation burden to avoid overloading lab technicians.

While sending devices offsite to qualified Advanced Service facilities is always an option and may be necessary, particularly when dealing with homemade devices commonly confiscated from inmates, handling digital investigations in house allows valuable information to be accessed quickly, which may be critical when dealing with potential threats to corrections personnel and other emergencies. Doing extractions in-house may also have cost-saving advantages—something to consider in these times when budgets are tight.

Analyzing The Evidence

Once data is collected and securely managed, the next step is to analyze the data to identify actionable intelligence. Even the simplest cellphone extraction can produce copious amounts of data. With modern analytics solutions (powered by AI), however, mountains of data can be parsed automatically to reveal key insights while reducing workloads.

Analysts have the power to merge information from disparate mobile and cloud data sources to clearly see the most sophisticated connections and data insights in a single, visual view. Most important, corrections managers can be assured that all digital data is being fully leveraged and securely shared to obtain critical intelligence.

Managing Data With Collaboration In Mind

While a management system for digital data that is customized for corrections facilities is key to preserving data integrity, compliance, and SOPs, another huge advantage is that it allows stakeholders to access relevant data from various locations within a given facility or between multiple facilities.

Where authorized, data sharing between Correctional Security Threat & Intelligence Officers and law enforcement outside of prison facilities is growing every day. Such collaboration is extremely important because multiple law enforcement agencies may be tracking, watching, or investigating the same criminal groups or individual suspects without being aware that another agency is doing the same thing.

Forming these new relationships and partnerships to deconflict actionable intelligence allows corrections teams and outside law enforcement to work together in a far more coordinated and collaborative manner to reduce crimes both inside and outside of facilities.

Is your agency DI Ready? Use our DI Readiness Navigator to find out how prepared your organization is to face the investigative challenges of tomorrow.

Want to learn more about how to solve today’s challenges in corrections facilities using Digital Intelligence? Download our new e-book.