Prison Profiteer Is Using Sandra Bland’s Death to Sell Surveillance Technology

Guardian RFIDThis is a relatively unknown company that is rapidly growing and sells digital technology to prisons. It produces ID cards and bracelets that guards can scan to verify identity. These are useful for head counts, meal distribution, and suicide checks.

Guardian RFID is another prison profiteer in the growing number of companies that do what Ruth Wilson Gilmore calls “sanctions”. “parasites,”Profiting from the prison-industrial complex. Guardian RFID’s plans for super-surveillance of the carceral environment is what is most alarming. Guardian RFID was created by Inc. magazineAs the 396th fastest-growing private business in 2021 it grew its revenue by 126 % in three years. Guardian RFID has been selling its products to prisons, juvenile detention centers, and jails for over 20 years. The company claims to provide technology for 75,000 correctional officers, who they call “Warriors” protecting “America’s Thin Gray Line.”

Guardian RFID and other companies are always open to selling new solutions to the problem. New technologies offer unprecedented levels of surveillance. This system treats humans like numbers or like bar codes to scan and count, and not as individuals with families, pasts, and a potential future.

Weapons of Mass Data Collection

Guardian RFID is a high-tech tool that allows tight surveillance of jail cells. The hand-held device is used by Carceral personnel Spartan 3This is basically an Android phone with basic jail functions. The Spartan scans wristbands, ID cards, and wristbands of prisoners. According to a Guardian RFID spokesperson the data is stored on a remote cloud. “F*#@ing Magic.”The company says it builds artificial intelligence systems with “predictive and prescriptive insights” that will give guards “constant surveillance capabilities.”

Guardian RFID sells its products using slick imagery and hypermilitarized language, mostly to sheriffs in rural U.S. counties. As it says on the Guardian RFID website, the Spartan 3 is to work with the speed and precision of a “surgical strike” — like “ISIS strongholds turned to glass.” It is a “weapon of mass data collection.” The goal is achieving “operational dominance,” what is described in further hyperbole, as “a powerful synonym for waterboarding.”

Guardian RFID is located in Maple Grove (Minnesota), a suburb of Minneapolis. It was founded in 2001 by Ken Dalley, the company’s self-described “Chief Warrior,” a recent finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Heartland Award. Guardian RFID takes pride in being “Warrior led” but it’s not clear whether Dalley was ever a corrections officer. He did not respond. Truthout’s request for an interview. The company aims to track “every inmate” and estimates its technology tracks more than 10 percent of people incarcerated in the United States. Guardian RFID wants to “digitally transform” jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers.

Guardian RFID won its first contract at the Hardin County Jail, Eldora, Iowa in 2005. This 107-bed facility was awarded its contract. The jail is located 75 miles north from Des Moines and was known until recently as the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Iowa for two decades. Nick Whitmore, Jail Administrator, praised the Guardian RFID system as a way to protect his office from lawsuits. “If there is an investigation on an assault or suicide occurrence,” said Whitmore, “we’re able to document and prove in court that there was one-on-one contact between the individual detainee and jail guard.”

Guardian RFID actively promoted their technology to Texas jails after Sandra Bland’s suicide on July 13, 2015. They also tried to take advantage reforms made following national protests. Two years after Sandra Bland’s apparent suicide, Texas legislators passed the Sandra Bland Act. It is one of the most popular laws in Texas. requirements was that jails have “automated electronic sensors to ensure accurate and timely cell checks.” Guardian RFID lobbied sheriffs in the counties near where Bland died, winning contracts in Fort Bend County, Bezos County and Wharton County, all suburbs of Houston within an hour of the Waller County Jail where she was found hanging in her cell. Guardian RFID’s system was recently installed at the Bexar Co. Adult Detention Center in San Antonio (Texas) was installed as part of a $20 Million technology modernization effort. “demonstrate continuous compliance”With the Sandra Bland Act. Dallas, Texas, has likely signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Guardian RFID in order to be compliant with the new state law. On Guardian RFID’s blog, there’s an entire post about the Sandra Bland Act, instructing jails how to maximize “compliance.”

Guardian RFID will be awarded more contracts following high-profile news stories such as the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, where guards fell asleep while on the job. Epstein was a wealthy financier facing federal charges of sexual trafficking. He hanged himself with a sheet at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. This facility has since been temporarily shut down due to security concerns and infrastructure issues. Epstein’s death was recorded by security guards who were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes. Officers Michael Thomas (and Tova Noel) left Epstein alone for eight hours while they slept, ate, and did online shopping. Authorities charged the pair with falsifying the paper log books — but charges were dropped after the guards performed community service. Guardian RFID argues that its digital system is superior to the old paper method and thus prevents “liabilities.”

One of Guardian RFID’s largest contracts is with Sheriff Marian Brown who runs the Dallas County Jail in Texas, the seventh-largest jail in the U.S. with an average daily population of 6,000 people. The contract was approved for $1.1 million over three years on December 15, 2020. The first year’s dollar amount was $477,770. $391,475 came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), a $23 trillion stimulus bill that was passed in March 2020. It was unclear what carceral surveillance had to do with COVID relief. proposal before the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court. The remainder of the bill — $86,295 — was to be paid from commissions the sheriff makes off the commissary fund, the money that comes from the inflated prices people at the jail pay for personal items like toothpaste, deodorant and socks. The cost for the two subsequent years of the contract was $314979. Total surveillance technology can be a lucrative business.

Automating Repression

Guardian RFID is central Florida’s Polk County Jail System. It provides the ID tags required for all those in custody who enter through the jail gates. There are nearly 4,000 people incarcerated in three separate jails — Central County Jail, South County Jail and Central Booking. Guardian RFID is the ideal RFID solution. claim that people “take pride in their ID cards and even feel important having to wear them.” Guardian RFID founder Dalley took a tour of Polk’s modern processing center, what he says is by far the “most impressive and groundbreaking”It is the only one of its kind. Guardian RFID technology allows them to collect information. 42 million log entries in a year to “automate” compliance with Florida Model Jail Standards, guidelines established by the Florida Sheriff’s Association. Guardian RFID claims that the thousands they tag are not real people. They are data points.

The Polk County Jail’s massive data collection did not stop Shaun Seaman from dying on May 13, 2020. beaten to deathWhile on suicide watch. Seaman was not physically checked on by the guards for four and a quarter hours after the attack. Benjamin Crump, a well-known civil rights lawyer, represented the family.

The website for the DeSoto County Adult Detention Facility in Mississippi, says Guardian RFID’s technology is approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), radio frequency levels are similar to those in consumer electronics, and the devices are hypoallergenic. Those who refuse to wear the “non-implantable devices” will be “subject to fines and disciplinary action, including prosecution.”

Guardian RFID has a contract for the Sherburne County Jail, a 732-bed jail, one of the largest jails in the Twin Cities area of St. Paul-Minneapolis, not far from Guardian RFID’s headquarters. Sheriff Joel Brott is the Sheriff. “forward-thinking”Guardian RFID President Dalley said that the office. The jail also generates additional revenue through housing 500 peopleICE and U.S. detained ICE and U.S. Marshals as well as individuals from regional and local jails. Sheriff Brott used these extra income flows to pay for upgrading the facility — in this case, installing Guardian RFID’s system. Brott, like many sheriffs in the United States, monetizes incarceration to fund his jail. Some are more creative than others, as one Kentucky sheriff.

A “Self-Sufficient” Jail

Jailer Jamie Mosley has developed what he says is the first “self-sufficient” jail. The Laurel County Correctional Center in London, Kentucky is a 700-bed facility that holds 450 federal prisoners. Mosley opened a new $24 million jail in January 2020. This jail has twice the capacity as the previous facility. The new jail came in under budget — due to the unpaid labor of individuals in custody. “The flooring in the hallways, and all of the stone work in the showers was done by the inmates,” Mosley told the local press.

A contract was signed with the U.S. The Marshals Service has agreed to reimburse the county $54 per person in Laurel County jail for each day. This includes any medical expenses. Federal detainees are from the Eastern District of Kentucky as well as the larger cities of Knoxville Chattanooga Greenville and Nashville. “The jail is self-sufficient and operates on zero tax dollars,” brags Mosley. Mosley. says, “gives us so much more accountability than we had before.”

Mosley, who also founded his own company, called “The Jail”, made even more money from the jail. CrossbarTo sell e-cigarettes with bendable nicotine to prisoners in his custody as well as other jails. According to a Report by ViceCrossbar sold its ecigs in 33 jails. It was expected to make $35 Million in 2018. Mosley has not been ashamed about the exploitation of those he keeps under lock and key. “I remind our staff,” he told a local newspaper, “that most of the time our job is to take better care of people than they were taking of themselves.”

Guardian RFID hides some of its profiteering behind humanitarian work. Guardian RFID was established at the COVID-19 pandemic. Warrior Foundation, a non-profit organization to raise money to purchase masks for guards whose “sacrificial and heroic efforts are unseen.” The Warrior Foundation launched “Operation: Swift Mask” with two other major prison profiteers, Securus Technologies and GTL, that provide phone calls for over-priced rates. They raised money to send 250,000 masks into prisons and jails.

On one level, the overall mission of Guardian RFID is nothing new — making money off of locking people up. Guardian RFID is combining traditional elements such as overcharging for services and a cutting-edge surveillance program inside jails to tighten the screws on a population already subject to systematic repression, dehumanization.