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DOJ to Consider Expanding Use of AI Prisoner Monitoring Tech

The Department of Justice is investigating whether artificial intelligence monitoring could be used as a valuable tool to prevent suicide and crime within US prisons. A House of Representatives panel has requested that a study be conducted on the use of AI to analyze prisoners’ phone calls and pick up on particular language that would suggest bad intentions. The AI would also flag certain words or phrases. Similar technology is already being used in facilities in Alabama, New York, and Georgia. The DoJ has been encouraged to work with stakeholders in examining the feasibility of implementing such a system in prisons across the country.

Critics state that the program would be unsettling and a cause for concern for the family members and friends of prisoners who wish to speak with them over the phone or during visitation hours. Privacy groups have also questioned the use of AI call monitoring in prisons, stating that it impacts one of the very few freedoms offered to prisoners. A study from Standford University and Georgetown University that investigated the accuracy of using AI to transcribe voice conversations determined that the technology has a high error rate when used to analyze words spoken by black people. However, supporters state that the tech has already helped to prevent inmate suicides and, if implemented, could help to prevent many more.

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