We’ve all used a camera before to capture meaningful moments. Whether you’ve used a Polaroid to take a photo of your baby’s first steps, or your cell phone to screenshot tickets for a sporting event, photography has the ability to freeze a moment in time. Photography is powerful as it provides truth: it shows who was in the frame, where it took place, and what was happening. The general public typically uses photography to collect happy memories. However, correctional officers typically use photography to collect inmate evidence.

When it comes to working in the corrections industry, capturing an exact moment for documentation is everything. There are many ways to collect documentation with your SPARTAN camera, but today, we’re going to discuss the five major key methods: documenting inmate injuries, commissary, incoming legal mail, meal transferring, and avoiding litigation.  

Assault Injuries

Anyone who has worked inside a jail or prison has encountered an inmate who has been assaulted. In this scenario, officers are trained to take photographs and/or video of all wounds as they are used to document the extent of the injury and can be used as evidence in a disciplinary and/or criminal case. Many facilities have a camera located in their intake area or in a supervisor’s office, but unfortunately, that’s not enough. What happens when the inmate is being rushed to the hospital due to the severity of their injuries? There is no time to wait. That's okay, because GUARDIAN RFID has you covered.

By selecting the cell check module, scanning the inmate’s wristband, and selecting the “Take a Video” wordblock, you can record up to a two-minute video, documenting the inmate’s injuries. Any officer who has a SPARTAN can quickly document the injury without having to retrieve a camera from another location.


Commissary

Jails and prisons allow inmates to purchase items through commissary, which is essentially an avenue for inmates to order basic food items such as candy, Ramen noodles, chips, soda, etc. When the commissary items are delivered to the inmate, he or she is supposed to verify they received everything they ordered by signing a receipt, documenting the delivery. However, facilities constantly get complaints from inmates that one or more of the items they ordered were not delivered.

Using the Supply Module within GUARDIAN RFID's SPARTAN device, staff delivering commissary can scan the inmate's wristband or ID card, select the Commissary word block, scan the inmate's wristband or ID card, spread out all commissary items being delivered, select the Take Photo word block, and take a photo of all the commissary items. You can also program the Commissary word block for the inmate to sign their initials on the device. Once the inmate signs on the device, you click Save, and now you have photographic proof of what the inmate ordered, the date and time the order was delivered, the staff member that delivered the order, and the inmate's initials documenting receipt of the delivery. Once inmates notice that you are documenting their commissary delivery with a photo, they will complain less frequently about missing items because you will have verification of what they received. All information logged is searchable by selecting a date and time range and the Commissary word block, and/or by searching a specific inmate's activity log.   


Incoming Legal Mail

Inmates often complain of not receiving their legal mail, and that typically ties back to how facilities manage their incoming mail. Some facilities use a paper log to hand-write who the letter came from with the date and time received. Using the Supply module within GUARDIAN RFID's SPARTAN device, you can scan the inmate's wristband or ID card, select Mail- Legal Incoming, select Take a Photo and take a picture of the outside of the envelope so you can document the return address and capture the date stamp on the letter.

You can program this feature to require an inmate's signature, so it prompts the inmate to sign their initials. You will then click Save, and now you have a digital record of the date and time the mail was given to the inmate, the officer that gave it to the inmate, a photo of the outside of the envelope with the return address, date stamp, and the inmate's digital signature. All information logged is searchable by selecting a date and time range in the Legal-Mail Incoming word block and/or by searching a specific inmate's activity log.


Meal Transferring

One of the most common complaints from inmates is about the food they are being provided. Inmates complain about their portion sizes being too small, the temperature too cold, or that it doesn’t even appear to be edible. Using the Meals module within the GUARDIAN RFID SPARTAN device, you can document which inmates received their trays. However, inmates will find a way to complain no matter what, so some facilities will even take a photo of a digital thermometer that captures the food temperature at the time the meal is being delivered to the inmates. You probably wouldn’t document this for all inmates, but if you had an inmate constantly complaining about their meals, you could document the contents of the tray, portion sizes, and food temperatures by using the Take a Photo feature on the device.


Avoid Litigation

Last but not least, the most important documentation method is protecting yourself from being sued. Being able to provide photographic evidence helps defend your case when you are being tried against. An excellent example of a case where jailers easily avoided a lawsuit comes from a customer in the Association of Arkansas Counties Risk Management Fund. Brandy McAllister, RMS Counsel of AAC, explains a scenario where her jailers were able to prove an inmate’s accusation to be false by providing photographic evidence of the truth.

The feature we really love and encourage our counties to use on the handheld are the video and photo features because we’ve had inmates claim their cells are covered in black mold. We tell the jailers to take a picture of the cell so it captures that there wasn’t any black mold and can use that evidence when we’re defending the case in litigation. Instead of it becoming a question for trial of “he said she said,” we either have a video clip of the cell walls or photos proving the cell was in fact clean.
Brandy McAllister
RMS Counsel of AAC

We hope the five key methods above gave you a small glimpse of all the possibilities the SPARTAN camera can be utilized for. As previously mentioned, when it comes to working in the corrections industry, capturing an exact moment for documentation is everything.