In a move Dennis Sullivan calls transformative, operations at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio in Stryker are about to go fully electronic.
The facility plans in May to implement radio frequency identification (RFID) capabilities the executive director said will change the face of how inmates are tracked and administrators and staff members perform their duties. Using a system purchased from Guardian RFID, a Minnesota-based software company, CCNO will upgrade to a completely electronic operation.
“This is probably the biggest change that CCNO has seen since the facility opened,” Sullivan said. “This is going to change how things are done, how we record, how we track. We’ll be able to know where every inmate is in real time.”
Using RFID chips implanted in inmates’ wristbands, staff members will be able to scan inmates for movement and track their location in real time with hand-held devices. The WiFi-connected system will replace the less accurate written records used to complete security rounds, suicide checks, and movement logs since CCNO opened in 1990.
“It’s going to make us more efficient. You can look right on your computer, and it will be put there,” Sullivan said. “This is going to transform all of what we do into electronics. There will be no more papers.”
The system will allow the facility’s administrators and officers to bring up all pertinent information regarding inmates in real time on a computer, he said. The process of tracking inmates and their locations within CCNO will be more efficient, and supervisors can quickly identify officers and the units to which they’re assigned.
“It increases staff performance, and at the same time makes it easier and safer for them,” Sullivan said. “It does create accountability, and that’s important.”
To his knowledge, CCNO will be the only corrections center in northwest Ohio to use an RFID system, although Lucas County has looked into the process. Sullivan said he visited corrections facilities in Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky using an RFID system.
The price tag for the 25 to 30 hand-held devices, WiFi capabilities, and other electronic Guardian RFID will provide totals approximately $166,000. Funding will come from CCNO’s capital budget, which is flush with a $437,000 carryover from 2019.
Sullivan said there have been no concerns expressed over the RFID system violating inmates’ privacy or rights.
“That’s our job. We need to know where they are,” he said. “We’ve had a very positive response.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.