Bits & Bytes
FROM STEEL BARS TO BAR CODES
This could be the prison of the future. When convicts check into the Hillsborough County Jail in Tampa, they now face a life behind bar codes. Upon arrival at the 1,744-bed county jail, inmates are fingerprinted and photographed using electronic scanners. The digital images are stored with the prisoner's personal data on a computer network. The system then prints out a tamper-resistant arm band that has both a photo and a bar-code symbol that positively identifies the prisoner during his stay at the facility.
Using personal computers equipped with bar-code readers from Unisys Corp., officers can then keep accurate track of individuals and ensure that the correct prisoner--and not his cellmate--is released at the end of his incarceration. Robert J. Cecil, director of the data operations division at Hillsborough, says that the computer network has reduced the inmate induction process to about five minutes of administration work.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG