China’s Yancheng Prison, Hong Kong to Employ AI ‘Guards’

New technology that watches over prisoners will be widespread in a test prison in China by the end of this year, according to a story in

The “smart” camera system, which relies on AI, will monitor prisoners 24/7 in their cells and other areas of the prison. A story in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) described the new surveillance system at the prison, which houses some of the nation’s most high-profile inmates. The Yanjiao-based facility nearly completed an upgrade of its surveillance system to include a network of cameras and sensors that can constantly track inmates.

Run by the Ministry of Justice, and one of the most high-profile facilities in the country, the prison is apparently subject to corruption among guards. According to the SCMP:

Some experts even believe that the system will make escape impossible because even if inmates are able to bribe the guards, they cannot stop the system from triggering the alarm.

According to a story in, Hong Kong is also introducing advanced technology to deal with prison crowding issues, a lack of staff and poorly designed facilities:

“They’re starting their smart prison initiative off by rolling out a number of technologies in 2019. First up is a video surveillance system, which is linked to an A.I. video analytics platform.The system monitors is inmates are acting out — such as fighting or attempting suicide — officers will get an alert, and respond. As of 2015, Prison Studies reports there are 1,649 804 to 2,300,000 people behind bars in China, which makes it second in the world to the United States.”

Officials expect the systems to reduce violence, monitor health and even detect drugs.

Image from the homepage of the Hong Kong Correctional Services website.