CDCR has successfully deployed an electronic tracking system at 32 of its institutions that helps increase and document CDCR’s high attention to inmate welfare.

The system streamlined the process for custody staff to accurately and electronically record the required 30-minute welfare checks and personal observations of inmates placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at 32 prisons across the state.

The new Inmate Welfare Check System (IWCS) gives more accurate and up-to-the-minute information, while eliminating and replacing the paper ASU tracking process.

The purpose of welfare checks is to limit the opportunity an inmate has to commit acts of self-harm.  Welfare checks are to be completed three times per hour at staggered intervals not to exceed 30 minutes, during the first three weeks, (21 calendar days) of ASU placement.

The system uses a familiar technology – ibuttons, small devices with unique digital addresses – to record when inmate checks are made. This creates an electronic record of the check.

This effort was implemented on-time, on-budget and within schedule through the collaboration of the Division of Adult Institution (DAI) and the Enterprise Information Services (EIS).

Capt. Joe Stein from the Office of Policy Standardization in Division of Adult Institutions said: “It is through this collaborative effort by both the Division of Adult Institutions and Enterprise Information Systems, that we were able to complete this endeavor; embracing a business solution that will make a significant impact in our continued efforts of ensuring the welfare of our inmate population.”

Guard performing Check

Correctional Officer using a pipe.

The ibuttons as used by CDCR are part of a product called Guard One.  Throughout the Guard One implementation 6,180 ibuttons were installed cell front on each cell in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU).

Some 1,200 rounds tracker pipes, 171 tracking wallets and 72 IP downloaders were deployed across the state.

Officers use the Guard One Rounds Tracker “PIPE” to record all ASU Welfare Checks. The “pipe” captures three levels of information – Time, Location, and Activities.  The Officer touches the pipe to each button which is affixed to each cell in their unit.


This is a “pipe” similar to ones being used by CDCR

Once a successful connection is established, the pipe emits a beep and a small LED light illuminates on the pipe, confirming the button was read. This electronically records that the officer was at a specific cell, at a specific time.

Activities are captured using ibuttons inside the supplied leather wallets. The pipe reads the ibuttons by simply touching the end of the pipe to the ibutton.  The battery power from the pipe energizes the ibutton for an instant to electronically capture a location or activity.

When officers are conducting rounds they capture incident information electronically with the use of the supplied leather wallets containing 12 incident ibuttons.

These 12 activity ibuttons correspond with a card inserted inside the wallet displaying specific activity information.

In order to capture an activity, the officer must first record the location ibutton at the cell front, and then identify which inmate – upper bunk, lower bunk – and touch the appropriate activity information in the leather wallet.

The ibuttons are programmed with standardized activities for capture.

At the completion of each shift the officer conducting the ASU Welfare Checks will insert the pipe into the Internet Protocol (IP) Downloader to capture all electronic data captured in the Guard One Rounds Tracker application, allowing for the transfer of large amounts of data to be securely transferred across the LAN/WAN.

This application was built on Microsoft’s SQL reporting services and offers advance reporting at the enterprise level while safeguarding the information. Before automating the process, custody staff were required to document the time of check, and note the inmate’s behavior/staff observations using paper and pen.

“Through the implementation of Guard One, CDCR will be able to capture accurate, real time data when conducting welfare checks of inmates, allowing the Department to increase our efficiency and our overall effectiveness providing sound reportable data, while adhering to court mandates and reducing the percentage of inmate suicide attempts in the ASU”, said Joe Panora the Director of Enterprise Information Services for CDCR.