Oct 22, 2009 7:13 AM by Kate Mundy
Some high tech upgrades are coming to the Iberia parish jail. The old analog surveillance system is being swapped for a digital one. The $140,000 system was paid for with state grant money.
Last month at another jail, an inmate was discovered beaten to death by fellow inmates. The new surveillance system will prevent a fight from ever going that far.
Warden Frank Ellis says it will make the jail safer for its employees and 524 inmates. It should be operational in less than two weeks. Wednesday, more than 12-thousand feet of cable was being pulled through the iberia parish. It will feed about 50 cameras being installed throughout the facility.
"It's like having extra employees on the floor, by having the cameras it allows us to see more, in the same period of time," said Ellis.
Booth controller Marsha Williams has been working at the jail for two years and says it's not always easy to tell if there's a problem in a cell, but unlike this old system, the new one has sound. "If we in here and something is going on in the cell, you know maybe that an inmate is sick and we'll be able to hear what's going on or if there's a disturbance we'll be able to hear what's going on," said Williams.
The new work stations will have clear digital pictures. "The monitoring system we have now is an analog system and the picture that we have probably what you equate to a 1960s TV," said Ellis.
Right now, images are not recorded, but soon everything that happens in front of a camera will be recorded on a seven day loop. Those recordings will be permanently saved on dvd.