Prisons from Hong Kong to Chennai to Georgia are setting up biometric surveillance
Hong Kong’s Correctional Services Department this week agreed with Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks to build a framework for exploring “market-proven” projects to address jail needs.
According to the prisons’ department, the two organizations, which have worked together on other projects, have signed a memo of understanding outlining development goals. One of the goals is the creation of a “penal lab” for testing technologies.
The prisons’ commissioner has linked this work to Chinese government-imposed biometric surveillance development throughout the rest of Hong Kong.
In 2021, the Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution became Hong Kong’s first so-called smart prison, distributing biometric wristbands and creating a CCTV system with facial recognition capabilities.
Biometrics part of prison economy in Indian city of Chennai
Officials with Prisons and Correctional Services in India’s Tamil Nadu state say they have upgraded prisoner canteens in all state central prisons and special prisons for women throughout according to news publisher The Hindu.
Previously cash-only, the canteens now required that purchases be facilitated by biometric authentication. Prisoners reportedly can see their weekly and net spending balances at any time.
So-called A-class prisoners can spend up to 1,000 rupees (US$12.18) each week. B-class prisoners are limited to 750 rupees ($9.14). Officials monitor business conducted in canteens, which are audited.
The central government faced scrutiny in May over allegedly providing contradictory information about how facial recognition has been implemented in prisons.
Biometric surveillance goes to US jail suffering medieval conditions
According to technology news and culture magazine Wired, conditions in a jail in Atlanta border on dungeon-like, with horrific bedbug infestations, people sleeping in plastic trays on the floor and faulty cell doors.
The government says biometrics infrastructure can automate the monitoring of prisoners, especially now as the corrections department faces staff shortages.
County officials have bought 750 sensors for $350 each and 1,000 wristbands for $130 each. A plan is in place to put biometric cuffs on 450 inmates to track heart rates and to communicate with sensors in facility walls. No timeline for full deployment has been made public.