According to the Justice Department, about 4,400 people die in U.S. prisons every year, which equates to 12 per day. Whether it’s a fight among inmates or an inmate needing medical attention in their cell, your correctional officers (COs) need to react quickly and efficiently.
Unfortunately, when precious seconds matter and a CO needs a key, policies and procedures often get tossed aside. It’s not ideal to search and fumble for the right key and sign it out when every second counts in a dangerous circumstance.
Under the stress of the situation, whoever took the key may not put it back immediately. If the key isn't promptly returned and later left in an unsecured location, that opens the door for an inmate to swipe the key. If a CO loses a key after failing to complete the checkout log, then there’s no telling who might have it or who needs to be held responsible for losing it. It might even go unreported.
What happens when you do find out that a key has been lost or stolen? You may have to change multiple locks in your facility. That means dishing out significant funds, which could have been used for other facility upgrades.
You may think that these problems are unavoidable and that they happen in every jail or prison. However, there are several ways that you can avoid these issues in your facility.
Don’t Rely on Outdated Procedures
Old metal lockboxes and handwritten logs are outdated procedures that represent a major security and key management risk for your facility. Secure your keys with an electronic key control system that allows quick but secure access to keys.
Hold Employees Accountable
Make sure you know who’s responsible for keys by keeping accurate key audit trails. Keeping accurate audit trails helps with avoiding employee theft. With an electronic key control system that automatically tracks access, you can quickly know if a key isn’t returned and who removed it, holding employees accountable and saving you time and money.
Avoid Slow Key Checkout Methods
With a quick and easy key checkout method, you can make sure COs don’t feel compelled to grab keys without signing them out first because they don’t have time to waste in an emergency. An electronic key control system with a prompt checkout procedure, such as a biometric fingerprint reader, ensures COs aren’t wasting any precious seconds.
An electronic key control system can also help your COs in times of duress — especially when a CO may need to discreetly notify a supervisor of a problem without letting the inmates know. Being able to do so will ensure a quick response time and prevent the situation from escalating.
When all it takes is a second for things to go south, it’s imperative to have efficient procedures in place that don’t hinder safety or security. An efficient key management process can save your facility time, money, and lives.