Prison keeps eye on inmate computer use

To keep an eye on inmates using computers, a Florida state prison installed

a surveillance software program that lets an administrator using one screen

monitor a dozen computers in real time.

Alan Drake, a vocational education teacher with the state's Department

of Corrections, said inmates who are enrolled in computer education courses

sometimes use machines for unauthorized applications. He said this might

include playing games, creating game pools or doing legal work, which is

permitted only in the law library.

"You can't watch and walk around the class and look at each individual

machine," he said. "This [software] controls the atmosphere from the standpoint

that they will not be able to do clip art when they're not supposed to be

doing clip art. It restricts them to doing their work."

Created by Dunkirk, Md.-based Adavi Inc., the software program, called

Silent Watch, enables Drake to view all computers on his computer screen.

With a single keystroke, he can freeze an inmate's computer and lock it

up if the inmate is doing something unauthorized. To free it, the computer

must be shut down and restarted. Screens refresh every two seconds, and

an audible alarm can sound if a prisoner has typed a word or phrase deemed

objectionable.

Drake said the program also enables him to save or print a screen as

evidence of an inmate's transgression. All e-mails sent between inmates

within the closed network are automatically sent to Drake. The software

also keeps a keystroke history of each computer.

Although he hasn't had that many problems with inmates using computers

in an unauthorized way, Drake said such problems have been eliminated completely.

He said the program acts as a deterrent because inmates are aware of it.

Adavi spokesman David Crozier said Silent Watch, which can be used with

Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95, 98, 2000 and NT, is used in schools, organizations

and companies. He said it could monitor up to 49 computers on one screen.

It cost about $1,000 to equip Drake's 12 computers to be monitored with

Adavi's software, which has been in place for two months.

The prison course teaches inmates how to use software applications and

other programming. The prison does not allow inmates to use the Internet,

but lets them work on an Internet simulator program.

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