A Path to Accountability: Preventing Negligence and Litigation in Prisons

The incarcerated population in America by the end of 2020 was just below 1.8 million. While this was the lowest inmate count since 1997, it also carried one the highest rates of jail litigation in recent history. That same year, over 26,000 lawsuits were filed against prisons by inmates (or almost 15 filings for every 1,000 incarcerated), with the vast majority pertaining to prisoner civil rights and conditions. These range from refusal to provide medical treatment, excessive use of force, sexual assault and failure of staff to attend to an inmate with suicidal thoughts. Per Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, which pertains to civil action for deprivation of rights, prisoners are within their rights to sue state correctional officials when the conditions of confinement fail to meet constitutional standards of physical security, adequate medical treatment, freedom of religious expression, and so on.

Prison staff and officials are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of inmates in their care–that is an undeniable truth.  Negligence on their part can lead to injuries or harm to prisoners, and in some cases, can even result in death. The increase in litigation against prison officials due to negligence in recent years does indicate a need for improved conditions for prisoners, as well as increased costs and strain on institutions and taxpayers alike.

The staffing shortage across the U.S. is only too familiar to the criminal justice industry. Staffing remains the most significant operational issue for most prisons, with some areas, such as the Georgia Department of Corrections experiencing vacancy rates exceeding 70% in some units. Staff shortages have a direct impact on inmates, who rely on them for all aspects of their well-being including showers, meals, medical visits, family visits and other needs. It’s in these areas where negligence is not only present, but inevitable.

A Solution in Accountability

Every prisoner has a right to humane treatment and protection from harm. When those conditions are not met, they are within their legal rights to pursue legal action. Prison litigation is a costly, straining process that doesn’t always have ideal outcomes for either party. Often a lack of evidence, failure of cooperation or some other factor hinders true justice and necessary corrective action.

There is, however, a solution that has the potential to prevent both negligence and litigation simultaneously, through accountability. Talitrix, a software as a service (SaaS) company based in Georgia, has developed leading-edge technology specifically for the criminal justice industry. Their Inside the Walls (ITW) Jail Management Platform revolutionizes the way jails and prisons are managed by increasing visibility and transparency through technology. ITW integrates with the latest digital jail management systems to help monitor, track and control inmates within the prison. ITW can complete automated inmate counts, provide real-time tracking with inmate-to-inmate control, provide crowd control, and can also be used as a suicide prevention aide. Most importantly, the data collected by ITW creates accountability for staff and prisoners alike, making it easier to prove or refute claims that could eventually lead to prison litigation.

How It Works

The ITW Jail Management Platform is a modern approach to prison management that increases efficiency, leverages data, and can be customized for flexibility. Each inmate is fitted with a Talitrix band–a modern alternative to the traditional ankle monitor and the next generation of monitoring technology. This band provides staff with biometric data and a clear picture of every individual’s position via a GPS location system, even in camera blind spots. Every 15 seconds a supervisor can access the exact location of an inmate via their Talitrix band. Electronic monitoring devices provide a new way to visualize an inmate population and give staff monitoring control like never before. With the Talitrix band paired with the ITW Jail Management Platform, staff have the ability to instantly count individuals by location, control movements of large populations with less staff, review incidents by location, control contraband by monitoring movement patterns, track individual out-of-cell times, and record historical movement for analysis. All of this information is available via a data dashboard that can be customized to meet different administration needs.

Good prison management requires constant monitoring and control of an inmate population. With extreme understaffing, negligence is bound to happen given that there just aren’t enough guards to perform all the necessary duties including manual cell checks, escorting prisoners to different locations, and intervening in physical altercations. In 2021, the Bureau of Prisons budgeted for 20,446 full-time correctional officer positions. By May of 2021, only 13,762 (or 67%) of those positions were filled. GPS monitoring systems like the one Talitrix offers is the solution that will help offset understaffing and reduce incidences of negligence.

Working Inside The Walls

Talitrix’s ITW Jail Management Platform has the capabilities to help manage day-to-day activities and alleviate potential areas of negligence, using technology. For example, their automated inmate count at the touch of a button reduces the need for physical counts which require additional staff and time.

ITW’s automated tracking increases efficiency across prison staff, but is also a tool that can reduce the risk of litigation. For example, “refusal to provide medical treatment” is one of the most common acts of negligence by prison officials. It is often used in the name of preserving order or ensuring discipline among prisoners, but there is no justification for denying inmates this fundamental necessity. Failure to provide adequate medical care to a sick or injured inmate is considered an act of negligence and is a suable offense. With officer protection and inhumane treatment of inmates continuing to plague prisons across the country, the risk of litigation increases daily. The ITW Jail Management Platform offers a solution that creates accountability and protects both inmates and prison officers using data collected from real-time tracking. This technology can monitor movement control functions to see where an inmate is at all times. If an inmate makes a claim against an officer for refusing medical treatment, ITW location data logs will indicate whether or not the inmate was brought to the medical area of the facility or not. The use of the technology can curb litigation claims and prevent false allegations before they can gain traction.

Another concern that is unfortunately common within prisons is self-harm and suicide. It is the responsibility and legal obligation of prison staff to attend to an inmate with suicidal thoughts and take the necessary steps to protect their life. Negligence in this area is a matter of life and death. Overcrowding and understaffing can make this exceptionally more difficult and risk the lives of many. The ITW Jail Management Platform can reduce instances of inmate suicide by leveraging data to decrease risk. The Talitrix band provides reliable 24/7 biometric data for every inmate, which is especially important for those at higher risk for self-harm. In a situation where an inmate’s heart rate has a drastic drop or increase, correctional officers are notified immediately and can respond instantly to their location to provide aid. After the inmate has been checked on, the staff can document the incident using the provided data and decide next steps. This crucial response time can save inmates; lives and ensure staff are protected from negligence claims, given they respond immediately to the biometric alerts.

Serving and Protecting

The ITW Jail Management Platform is a tool that serves to help and protect both prison staff and inmates alike. Prison management lives in the past, relying on outdated practices, clunky systems and overcomplicated processes. As other industries embrace technology and advance their operations to be more efficient, more reliable, and more sustainable, the criminal justice industry hasn’t evolved much, specifically when it comes to prison management.

Talitrix sits on the edge of revolutionizing prison management in a way that increases accountability while preventing litigation across the board. Negligence is a far too common occurrence in the criminal justice system, and there is lack of accountability when it comes to ensuring proper care is provided to inmates, or often not enough adequate evidence provided to back up a litigation claim. The visibility provided by Talitrix’s technology paints a clearer, more detailed picture of what’s happening inside prisons and calls on each individual to do better and be better. For the 1.8 million and counting inmates across America, even one case of negligence is one too many. Talitrix is paving the way to create a more efficient, more transparent, and more accountable justice system.

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John Steward

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Irene Lopez

Irene Lopez

Finance Manager

Irene Lopez is on the executive team and manages the finance and accounting operations. As a dedicated and detail-oriented professional with a degree in Business Administration, she has extensive experience in all areas of business and financial accounting.
Irene Lopez is on the executive team and manages the finance and accounting operations. As a dedicated and detail-oriented professional with a degree in Business Administration, she has extensive experience in all areas of business and financial accounting.

Ricky Myrick

SVP, Business Development

Ricky Myrick joined the Talitrix Team in January 2021 where he serves as a member of the business development team. Prior to joining Talitrix, Myrick served as the Chief of Staff to the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), where, under the direction of the Commissioner of Corrections, he was responsible for daily oversight of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC). The GDC has an annual operating budget of just over 1.2 billion dollars and employs approximately 12,000 staff. Approximately 52,000 offenders are incarcerated in the GDC’s 34 State Prisons, 13 Transitional Centers, seven Treatment Facilities, and seven Detention Centers. Myrick worked over 31-years with the GDC and served in many roles such as Assistant Commissioner of Facility Operations, Director of Investigations & Compliance, Chief Investigator, Group Supervisor with the US Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, Assistant Director Special Operations, DEA Task Force Agent, Criminal Investigator, Lieutenant, Sergeant, and Correctional Officer. Myrick holds a Master of Public Administration from Columbus State University and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Thomas University.

Hari Ambati

Chief Technology Officer

An Inventor and a strong Leader with Master’s in Business Administration, Hari has 27-year experience working with fortune 500 companies and various non-profits.
Previously, Hari worked as a CTO, at VirtueGroup & Sunsoft Solutions. In this role, he oversaw Strategy, M&A, Product management and marketing for Sunsoft and was Instrumental in building digital banking solutions for Investment Banking, Venture Capital & Finance by pioneering a patent pending BlockChain Technology that enables the PE & Hedge funds to be able to create equity baskets for value investing by leveraging the transfer price trade simulation methodology applied over the employee performance for companies in the equity basket. His constant pursuit of challenging the status-quo in any project he embarks on makes him the go-to person for all the clients and businesses he is engaged with.
Prior, Hari was IT Director at Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). He successfully oversaw the transformation of legacy association into a strong customer centric omni-channel membership organization by transforming the association to a CRM Heavy & Cloud Centric IT operations and consolidated all the branch operations into one large centralized data center, network switching, MPLS, SDWAN, Phone Systems, VOD, Printing Services, Member movement/Heatmap Management, guest Wi-Fi, digital signage, BMS, HVAC and emergency response.
Before joining YMCA in 2010, Hari worked as Sr. Manager & Client Executive for the Largest Grocery Chain in USA, where he worked with several applications in Retail POS, Forecasting, CAO, Customer Loyalty, Rules Based Pricing Engine, Warehouse Consolidation, POS Migration in Large Format Stores.

Todd M. Buzek

Chief Strategy Officer

Todd was named Chief Revenue Officer of Talitrix in June 2022. Prior to officially joining full time, he was a consultant to Talitrix via the professional services consulting firm Strategic Growth Concepts Inc. As SGC’s President, the firm has spent the past 19 years as consultants and strategists for several international Am Law 100 law firms concentrating in insurance, construction, and environmental litigation. Prior to SGC he was Vice President for Harbor Consulting in Washington DC and spent 10 years in Regional, District and Gov’t management roles for AT&T Wireless. Buzek holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Kent State University.

Todd Kieffer

Chief Operating Officer

Todd Kieffer has over thirty years of leadership experience with a focus on delivering exceptional client services at companies such as Pitney Bowes, Ricoh Americas Corporation, Rubicon Global and Modicare. Todd built teams to service commercial clients, both mid-market and Fortune 500, and to local, state and federal government clients. Todd has specialized in managing through periods of rapid company growth, and his experience includes solutions for domestic and international organizations.
Todd earned his BBA from The University of Georgia and his MBA from The George Washington University.
Justin Hawkins

Justin Hawkins

Chief Executive Officer

Justin Hawkins is the CEO of Talitrix and serves on its board of directors.
Justin is responsible for driving overall strategy, and vision for Talitrix, the first to market wrist wearable in the electronic monitoring industry. Talitrix specializes in pioneering new technology in pre-trial, probation and case management in the criminal justice space.

Prior to joining Talitrix, Justin began his career as one of the youngest sales representatives at Intuitive Health serving on contracts with Johnson & Johnson, and Amgen. Subsequently, Justin founded Compass Neuro, one of Georgia’s first medical cannabis oil companies that led the passage of legalizing the production and sale of cannabis oil for children, veterans and all other Georgia patients.

Justin graduated Cum Laude earning a Political Science degree from Kennesaw State University.