The Providence Journal: Rhode Island prisons to install iris-scanning security system

CRANSTON — Nayquan J. Gadson got lucky. The inmate, who escaped last week from the Adult Correctional Institutions by using the mangled photo identification of an inmate who was eligible for parole, acted on his escape plan just before the Department of Corrections acted on its plan to implement tighter security.

On Tuesday, the Department of Corrections is scheduled to meet to begin the implementation plan of new iris-scanning equipment at the prison, said Director A.T. Wall.

“When Nayquan Gadson deceived our staff into being released, we were very close to going live with this iris-recognition scan,” Wall said.

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,” Wall said.

Last year, the department received a grant through U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy’s office to acquire two iris scanners, one for the men’s unit at the prison, and one for the women’s unit, Wall said.

In January, two officials from the department visited the Plymouth (Mass.) House of Corrections to observe the iris scanners in use.

“They were impressed,” Wall said.

The equipment is created by the Plymouth-based BI2 Technologies, which demonstrated the equipment’s use at the ACI in February.

Wall said he and the other department officials liked what they saw and “entered into an agreement to install two of them.” However, before the equipment could be installed, some technical issues needed to be resolved.

“We asked the firm to make some modifications to its software so it would be compatible with the security features of our existing system,” Wall said. “That took some time to identify what needed to be done and to do it. In fact, that work has just now been done.”

No date has been set for the equipment’s installation, but Wall said it will be “very soon.”

Because of the grant, the equipment cost the state nothing to acquire, Wall said, but it will cost the state $800 a year to maintain.

Gadson, 21, of Providence, who is 5 feet 8 inches and 170 pounds, has been on the lam since 5 p.m. July 27. Authorities say he gained his release by using the mangled photo identification of another inmate, Tarnue Segbeyan, 22, of Providence, who was eligible for bail. In addition, Gadson also answered questions of the guards for which only Segbeyan should have known the answers, unless he shared them with Gadson.

Last Thursday, the state police arraigned Segbeyan on charges of aiding and abetting the escape of a prisoner, a felony, which carries a penalty of 1 to 20 years. Segbeyan has been held at the ACI since March, after being arrested in Providence for assault with a knife.

Gadson had been held at the ACI since July 2 and was facing numerous charges, including first-degree robbery and possession of a firearm while committing a crime of violence. The state police regard Gadson as dangerous and request anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to call (401) 444-1000.

By Bryan Rourke

Journal Staff Writer