Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $110,877)
The New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) has seen a rapid increase in allegations of sexual victimization over the years. The Department has found that the majority of Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) allegations result in an unsubstantiated finding due to the lack of evidence gleaned video technology. The presence of cameras in an institutional setting can prove the validity of an allegation which can also assist the Special Investigations Division in investigating and resolving PREA allegations. The NJDOC has recently updated the camera system within Edna Mahan Correctional Facility (EMCF). However, the Department was unable to purchase additional artificial intelligence (AI) software to enhance this new camera system. This system would prove valuable as it will assist the Department in closing out PREA investigations and identifying the individuals who are committing the sexual offenses.
NJDOC plans to enhance the existing camera system at EMCF by upgrading the camera software to include artificial intelligence (AI) facial recognition. By focusing on standard 115.18, installation of this software will allow the NJDOC to improve their detection and response to incarcerated women who are being sexually abused. The new system would also provide incarcerated women with a sense of security and would give the Special Investigations Division additional means of determining appropriate outcomes for PREA investigations.
NJDOC intends to purchase approximately nine (9) additional cameras a standalone system, DVRs and monitor for the detected blinds spots in the housekeeping area at EMCF.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended that officers be able to communicate with incarcerated women who are Limited English Proficient (LEP), specifically after the hours of 5:00 p.m. on second shift and all of third shift. In order to accommodate this need, the NJDOC is proposing to pilot a handheld transmitter with no Wi-Fi capabilities that can be utilized to translate for the officers interacting with LEP incarcerated women. This effort would ensure compliance with the appropriate PREA standard and DOJ’s recommendation.