Jail biometricsJail installs facial recognition tool to prevent accidental releases

Published 20 December 2011

To prevent the accidental release of the wrong inmate, Madison County Jail in Alabama recently became the first prison in the United States to install 3D facial recognition technology

To prevent the accidental release of the wrong inmate, Madison County Jail in Alabama recently became the first prison in the United States to install3D facial recognition technology.

Steve Morrison, the chief deputy of Madison County Jail, said that while it may sound pretty far-fetched for a prison to release the wrong inmate, it has happened.

“We’ve actually had a couple of guys with the same name that were assigned to the same pod, and one was asleep and they called for this guy and [the other one] said, ‘yeah, that’s me.’ And they took him downstairs and let him out—he was sentenced to ten years in prison,” Morrison said. “That’s what helps you get the approval and the funding to be able to buy equipment like this. Things like that happen. … Humans make mistakes.”

With the help of National Security Resources and their biometric cameras, Morrison hopes that embarrassing accidental releases can become a problem of the past.

When prisoners enter the jail they now have their picture taken and catalogued in a database. The camera’s software breaks down an individual’s face based on 40,000 points around the eyes and the bridge of the nose with a 99.2 percent accuracy rate.

For now Madison County Jail has only used the system to process inmates as they enter and exit the jail, but Morrison hopes that the system will eventually be expanded to help secure doorways and visitation rooms.

There’s thousands of applications for this and we’re just now scratching the surface,” Morrison said. “You can set it up where you come to a secure door and it automatically grabs your face as soon as it comes into the camera’s view and opens the door for you. So if you have emergency response, instead of taking time to wait for the central control to pop the door or utilize a key, it’s almost an immediate response. Once you’re in the system it picks you up in a matter of a second—probably less than a second.”

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