Legal Affairs

Bureau of Prisons mulls eDiscovery computers for inmates

books

WHAT: An electronic discovery tool for federal inmates.

WHY: Inmates in federal prisons are entitled to have access to materials to participate in their defense, and to pursue civil litigation. Traditionally, this has meant trips to institutional law libraries, or having materials delivered to an inmate's cell. Now the Bureau of Prisons is looking to give a 21st-century refresh to the exercise of constitutional rights by inmates, with a request for information to vendors for an eDiscovery solution that meets the particular security needs of prisons.

While there isn't yet an active solicitation, the Bureau of Prisons is seeking cost information on a combined hardware-software eDiscovery system that can be used on desktop computers in common areas by inmates in general population or potentially on tablets by inmates who are housed in more restrictive units. The restrictions on the hardware for inmate use are considerable. It must squelch network communication via wireless, Bluetooth, or cable; ban access to root file and boot partitions to prevent modification at the system level or potential reprogramming by computer savvy inmates; and block access to programming tools like macros, application programming interfaces or scripts.

Because an eDiscovery machine for inmates would be shared by multiple users, the device cannot store user data between sessions, and should restart or reboot upon logout. The system would be required to support a variety of file and media types, covering anything that might be used in evidence at trial. In addition to a host of document viewers, the eDiscovery system would have to support spreadsheets, presentation software like PowerPoint, graphics, audio and video.

The BOP is seeking responses from vendors by August 7. Click here to read the full RFI.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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Reader comments

Thu, Jul 10, 2014 AlRetd

Why even put them in prison.

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