Rarely, have two institutions, even when identical in architecture and mission, had the same needs resulting in identical networks. Each prison usually has a unique design. We at Academy work with you to design an affordable, tailored inmate network.


Q. How many inmates?

A. A rule of thumb is that you will need one seat (computer screen) per 100 inmates. If the inmates are shorter-term, you may be able to get away with fewer. One privatized state prison has one per 185 inmates. A lot depends on the contentiousness of the individual population. Some medium security federal prisons have found they need 1 terminal for every 54 inmates.

Q. What is the security level/surveillance level?

A. The surprise here is how rarely computer equipment is damaged by inmates. Perhaps it is because the prison has effective punishment/reward policies in place that deter vandalism. Perhaps it is the belief that if the equipment gets damaged it will not be replaced, and inmates will lose its benefits. Even in medium-security prisons, standard computer hardware has had the normal wear and tear you would expect in an office environment. Still, for maximum-security prisons or for unattended environments, we offer several hardened steel Kiosks.

Conversely, tampering with the system software is common, though staff does this more often than inmates. Software tampering could result in electronic escape in open systems. Thatís why we generally design closed systems, with no internet or outside access at all. Locking down the server and terminals is a big part of our added value, the benefit of our experience.

Q: How many rooms/locations will the network have?

A: Centralizing the servers makes updating and management easy. Terminals can be located in a separate room, or across the compound at a work camp or special housing unit. Often, new institutions have fiber-optic lines between buildings. We can use a unique strand of this cable, to prevent access to unauthorized computers. Buildings without Fibre cable can be securely connected via tight beam digital radio transmission.


Then, based on this information, we develop an itemized quote. On average, about five iterations of the quotation becomes necessary, until everyone in the decision loop is satisfied with the configuration. Once we receive the purchase order for this system, we take the following steps:

  1. We purchase all of the network components and receive them at our office.
  2. We perform incoming quality checks and return all defective merchandise for replacement
  3. .
  4. We assemble the CD/DVD server{link} , a unique product of Academy Computer Services.
  5. We integrate all of the network components
    1. We lock down the main terminal server through a proprietary 150-step security process, closing all known avenues inmates have used to tamper with systems in the past.
    2. We load search software on the Main Server
    3. We secure the terminals via a proprietary 12-step process.
    4. We load all data CDs and applications software on the CD/DVD Server. Certain educational titles require modifications and/or special licensing to work on a network. We have experience with many titles.
    5. We set up the vending card printing system to print results of legal searches. We calibrate the new card reader to accept cards already in use by the institution for copying or commissary, if possible.
    6. We debug the network. We work to a quality, not a time standard. No network ships until it is 100% operational.
    7. We load test the network, emulating heavy use to ferret out weaknesses or instability, then correct the problems.
    8. We color code the connections of the network.
    9. We document the network's setup and copy you on that information.
    10. We disassemble the network, packing it carefully for shipment to the correction institution.
    11. We manage the installation process at your institution. We can either send our own people at a reasonable cost, or work with your people to assure the installation goes smoothly.


Ninety percent of any problems happen in the first 90 days. Thatís why we are available to provide 800 line telephone technical support services for your network. We will even locate resources that help with non-Academy products if problems persist that impact your network because of Lexis, Vendacard, Microsoft, or other vendorsí software. Where available, we contract with the hardware manufacturer for onsite support. We also recommend that we supply a technician to be oncall for you for the first year.