Trending Topics

Intelligence gathering in corrections: The price of prevention is much lower than the cost of response

Argus Corrections Solutions’ Echo 2.0 raises the bar for safety and security capabilities of institutions


Risk management has become a top challenge in today’s correctional facilities.

Photo courtesy of Argus Corrections Solutions

By Corrections 1 Staff

Last Tuesday at 0300 hours, in your special housing unit, an inmate used a PIN from an old cellmate and called his mom to tell her he was going to end his life. No one was monitoring the phone because the night shift was short-staffed. Within seconds, your Argus Echo software identified the inmate and Argus alerted your shift supervisor to concerning keywords used by the inmate. Your staff, with the help of Argus Biometrics, saved a life, avoided trauma to personnel and saved potentially millions of dollars in legal damages.

Wednesday morning, an inmate worker, assigned to clean several housing units, arranged over the phone to bring in and move narcotics from one housing unit to another. The worker knew the risk she was taking on a recorded line, but she factored in that your facility is running short, and staff has no time to monitor hundreds of phone calls every day. She was right, but with Argus quietly working in the background, staff were alerted to the issue, then identified the inmate and her conspirator outside the facility. Now both the inmate and her friends on the outside are on the system’s watch list.

Turning data into actionable intelligence

For decades, correctional institutions have come across bits and pieces of intelligence by monitoring the communications between inmates inside facilities and between inmates and their conspirators outside the prison and jail walls, first through letters, then by voice.

Gathered intelligence has been used to solve crimes, to better understand disruptive subcultures within institutions and periodically head off inmate disturbances when we were lucky enough to find information quickly. Gathering these little bits of information, however, came at a high labor cost, until recently.

In the past 10 years, facilities have started to collate endless inmate phone calls and visitation recordings. Here was this wealth of information, hundreds of hours of recordings with possibly minutes of actionable intelligence that would maybe come to light in time for a proper response, if ever. More often, the recordings sat in hard drives, unmonitored for lack of staffing. When we did sift through the piles, identifying who was making calls was a gamble as inmates steal, sell and trade phone time regularly. This scenario has completely turned around thanks to the Echo project. Today, correctional personnel can quickly pinpoint solid information from mountains of phone calls at a fraction of the labor cost and with greater accuracy.

An investigative force multiplier

Argus Corrections Solutions recently unveiled Echo 2.0, the most advanced biometric identification system available worldwide. Attached to correctional phone and visitation systems across the nation, Argus is quickly becoming an investigative force multiplier for improved safety and intelligence gathering in facilities. Echo works quietly in the background while correctional officers are free to perform other duties. When Argus voice recognition identifies an issue, an alert can be sent to correctional staff at their discretion.

Gone are the days when corrections staff spent precious hours sifting through a backlog with thousands of phone calls and visitation sessions, all without knowing specifically what they were looking for. Corrections staff are partnering with Argus biometrics technology to find needles in a haystack, and in real-time.

This real-time component of Echo’s capabilities is an absolute game-changer for facilities mitigating risks of inmate suicide, planned disturbances, contraband movement and assaults. Argus helps corrections staff work ahead of developing issues, where the price of prevention is much lower than the cost of response and clean-up to incidents that have already occurred.

Risk management has become a top challenge in today’s correctional facilities. Finding valuable information from multiple phone conversations is now a reality with the integration of software that can help quickly identify who is speaking, regardless of the language used, and alert staff to keywords that call for a critical response. Today, more corrections administrations are turning to Argus to maximize limited labor resources while tapping into one of the most subtle and responsive forms of intelligence gathering available on the planet.

For more information, see