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Fall 2010 Media Day to Feature Demo of New IRIS Scanning Technology - Friday, December 10th

The Rhode Island Department of Corrections is pleased to announce its Fall 2010 Media Day to be held on Friday, December 10th, from 9:30 a.m. until approximately noon. Space is limited, so members of the media are urged to mark their calendars and reserve their spot as soon as possible.

The day will begin with a gathering in the lobby of the Anthony P. Travisono Intake Service Center, located on Slate Hill Road, where participants will be greeted by Director Ashbel T. Wall and Chief of Information and Public Relations Tracey E. Zeckhausen. Half of the participants will then be brought down to the committing area for a demonstration of the Department’s cutting edge new iris scanning equipment. Because of space limitations in the area where the scanner is located, half of the group will tour the Intake Service Center during the first demo, and then the groups will switch. Next the group will board a RIDOC vehicle and head off to tour the High Security Center on Power Road.

Attendance at the Fall Media Day must be confirmed by Friday, December 3rd. Proper dress and ID are required. The tentative schedule for the day is as follows:

9:30 a.m. – Gathering at the lobby of the Intake Service Center with Director Wall and Tracey Zeckhausen. Light refreshments will be provided.

9:45 - 11 a.m. – Demonstration of the Inmate Recognition and Identification System (IRIS)/Tour of Intake Service Center (Because the area where the IRIS scanning technology is housed is a very small space, we will split into two groups at this point. While one group is touring the facility, the other will view the demonstration, and then we will switch.)

The Rhode Island Department of Corrections recently began using a cutting edge technology to increase security. The iris-scanning equipment detects distinct and unique patterns in each individual’s eyes. “It is the most up-to-date and foolproof technology for identifying individuals,” according to Director Ashbel T. Wall. Last year, the Department received a grant through U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy’s office to acquire two iris scanners, one for men’s Intake and one for Women’s Intake. Because of the grant, the equipment cost the state nothing to acquire, but it will cost about $800 a year to maintain. It, along with some revised release procedures, is expected to tighten security.

The Intake Service Center processes nearly 18,000 admissions per year. It serves as the state’s only male jail facility and is the largest facility on the complex with a capacity of 1,118 and an average population in 2009 of 1,051. In April, it was renamed in honor of the late Anthony P. Travisono, formerly of Jamestown, R.I., who served as Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections from July 1, 1972, until August 2, 1974. The first director in the department’s history, he died on April 4, 2009.

11:15 a.m. -- Tour of the High Security Center. Opened in 1981, the “Supermax” facility had an average population of 90 (in ’09) inmates who represent particular management challenges, including those related to discipline and mental health. All visits in the facility are non-contact except for those in Protective Custody, and programming is limited due to the high level of security. The HSC also includes the Protective Custody Unit; noon – Return Intake to pick up personal vehicles

While it is not the purpose of Media Day to provide opportunity for stock footage, b-roll, or sound, we will allow a limited amount of that if it is arranged in advance and does not detract from the tours or cause a deviation from the tight schedule outlined above. Media visitors will be allowed to film, record, or photograph the demonstration of the new IRIS scanning equipment.

To reserve a spot for the Fall 2010 Media Day, please contact Tracey E. Zeckhausen, Chief of Information and Public Relations, at (401) 462-2609 or In order to register, you must submit your date of birth so that a routine background check can be completed prior to entering the prisons.

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