LA jail tags inmates with RFID

California's jails, the country's largest prison system, plan to tag their inmates with RFIDs so prison authorities can better monitor and track inmates around prison grounds. In the first phase, the 1,800 inmates of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, California, will be tagged by fall 2005. The system will then be spread to other prison facilities.

The system works by planting RFID readers throughout a jail so that bracelet-wearing inmates can be continually tracked. When an inmate comes within range of a sensor, the sensor detects his or her presence and records the event in a database. If inmates assault guards or other inmates, for example, prison officials can look at the RFID logs and identify who was at the scene at the time of the incident. Tampering with the bracelet sends an alarm to the system. The tag numbers of gang members can be highlighted so that if two or more of them try to hold a gathering, an alarm sounds and guards are dispatched.

The tags will be provided by Alanco. The company estimates that the prison system alone could become a billion-dollar market, while jails could account for $500 million to $700 million in revenue.

For more on the Los Angeles County RFID/jail experiment:
- see Michael Kanellos's CNET report
For more on the business potential of prison RFIDs:
- see this press release

PLUS: RFID is generating increasing interest in Europe as projects using the technology begin to proliferate in a variety of markets, including retail, transportation, pharmaceuticals and livestock. Report

ALSO: Pressure from the defense industry and retail supply chains should push RFID technology deeper into the automotive supply chain, according to AMR Research. Report

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