You are on page 1of 4

William Fullam Intro to Corrections Professor Poulsen April 24, 2011

The Reforms in Intelligence Gathering in Prison Systems


Since September 11, 2001, the need for intelligence gathering has been an ever-increasing demand in our criminal justice system. With the information derived from such an occupation could mean the life of death of many of innocent persons. With the ever-increasing populations in the United States Prison System, this could most likely be the main taproot in a multitude of different opportunities to gather information on such types of intelligence as; gang affiliations and internal wars, money laundering, the recruitment of persons into militia groups such as alQaida, and the funding of major crime organizations. The type of intelligence gathering must still be done as not to violate the prisoners civil rights. How much longer can we as a society sit and wait for major crimes and unnecessary attacks to be taken until our safety is considered. In this rapidly growing prison system there are hundreds of thousands violent, organized criminals behind bars, and networking with each other so that their goals and agendas are met. More inmates are meeting other inmates that have the money, power and the means as to orchestrate disastrous and heinous crimes. For example, in 2001 Jose Emilio Suarez Trashorras was jailed in a Spanish prison for drug related offences. While imprisoned, Trashorras established regular contact with Jamal Ahmidan who was serving time for a petty crime. Both individuals embraced radical Islamic fundamentalist ideas within the prison and were recruited in the Takfir wa alHijra group, a Moroccan terrorist groups linked with al-Qaida [Cuthberson, 2004]. Following their release, Ahmidan became the leader of the terrorist cell that conducted the Madrid

bombing. In a drugs-for-bombs exchange with a third party, Trashorras provided the cell with explosives for the 13 backpack bombs that killed 191 people and injured hundreds. It is seen that there are large criminal organizations in the prison system and they have the resources to fulfill large-scale terrorist attacks. How do we put a stop to this? In the past corrections officers on the front line with the inmates have learned and discovered ways to listen and interpret when and how such activities were going to happen. This has come to a near stop with the education and experience the criminals of today have gained. There has been formulated ways to speak, encode, receive and transmit messages. In May 2009, New Jersey Department of Corrections spokesman stated the department has acquired six cell-phone-sniffing dogs that have detected 75 phonesand since January 2008, they have turned over to prosecutors 150 cases that accuse people of smuggling in cell-phones to inmates. In one case, records from a phone seized from an inmate reports 94 calls sent to people in four states. (http://www.policeone.com/pc) On Nov. 13 2001, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered all federal justice agencies, including the U.S. bureau of prisons, to assess their intelligence analysis capacities and especially to share information with state/local law enforcement agencies. The reform of the intelligence gathering area in the prison system is placed mostly in technological advancement. Criminals of all types are using technology as a way to perform their crimes faster and with less interference from the law. If there is going to be changes made to how we catch these criminals it is going to be using the same technology that they are using. Though authorities had monitored and taped prison phone calls, no one translated or actively listened to conversations until after a rental van packed with 1200-pound bomb exploded in the world trade centre's underground parking lot in 1993. This is one example of how these terrorists are determined to make their agendas happen even when in prison.

There are ways that the U.S Bureau of Prisons is helping in the way that information is prevented from inmates receiving but also in the way they are looking at the information received and deciphering it. One way is examining paperwork, documents and letters. A new protocol entails the individual examination, and authenticity of certain documents and letters. Some must pass through the hands of special translators that search for key words that mean certain things. Another way is monitoring inmate contacts inside and outside the prison. Watching whom the inmates are gathering with on the inside while keeping up with where and how funds are being dispersed in the prison. What the inmate buys is also a key in that certain items have certain meanings in prison. Keeping the prison as a whole on its toes and changing up the routines and daily practices help the prison from allowing inmates from getting together to often to collaborate and finding out patterns in the operations. In addition, inmates are always trying to find soft spots in the officers themselves that they may use as a way in with the officer to get something that they need such as cell phones. Finding new ways to keep information about the general operation of the facility out of the hands of the inmates is another task; it is another way for an intrusive attack or an escape. With technology and more criminals having computer skills keeping prison security is sometimes a hard job in itself. Hacking a security system in a prison is one crime that could have major implications if accomplished. It has been noted that on a couple of occasions the electronic doors in the prison have been short-circuited. The inmates are still criminals and there will always be one of them trying to accomplish the goals they set, with this fact there will always be a need for intelligence gathering. The problem that the system is facing is how the criminals distribute information. Investigators are looking for information and have been face to face with the criminal for so long that the ways the investigator looks is the same as always. Information

analysts have been looking at the same information and facing the same problem. Criminals are continually changing the ways that they encode, transmit, and access information. The justice system has two ways of sharing and collecting information with law enforcement and corrections, one is the use of intergraded justice information systems. This is the system that ties the community and law enforcement together and 911, also criminal records and files. The other is a system called COMPSTAT it is a computerized statistics program. This program analyzes statistics, gathered intelligence, and puts it together for use in determining strategic response, intelligence mapping, and information gathering resources. These are important tools for the corrections centers, as long as the center has the personnel that can understand and interpret the information gathered. The gathering of information is only half of the problem. Processing and utilizing the information collected is the important piece to the puzzle. Training, experience, and sharing of information is the only way that the justice system can get a maximum benefit of the intelligence gathered. Training has to be up to date with fresh ideas on how to obtain information learned by experience, tested methods, and then shared along with all aspects of the criminal justice system.