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Zenitel Prison audio solutions

Critical Communication in Swedish Prisons

For more than three decades, RM Telecom has worked to make Swedish prisons equally as well known for their clear and efficient communication systems, as they are known for their low recidivism rates and small prison populations. 

That’s a lofty goal for a company of any size. And it’s even more impressive, given that RM Telecom is a one-man show, run by Rolf “Dallas” Dahlgren. “I am a one-person company,” Dahlgren confirms. “I have good people around me in other companies that I work with, but I do more or less everything for RM Telecom myself.”

Dahlgren started working as an electrician in 1970, but it was in 1992 that he delivered his first system to a prison. His company now enjoys an 80% market share in supplying Swedish prisons with intercoms and other communication platforms.

“Intercoms in prisons are incredibly important,” Dahlgren says. “You can’t lock someone in their cell without having the means available for communication with prison staff. There is a need for two-way communication.”

Safety first

According to Dahlgren, prison intercom systems must be designed with safety at the forefront. Whether for daily assistance or emergency help, it is important that inmates and guards can communicate quickly and clearly.

He adds that malfunctioning intercoms create problems for staff and inmates alike: “System reliability is important in avoiding temporarily transporting prisoners to other cells or locations,” he said. “There is a cost involved in doing that. And if the cell’s intercom doesn’t work, staff need to close the prison cell. That’s how important it is for the intercom to be functional.”

Dahlgren explains that intercom systems have been essential to prison facilities since the 1970s: “Before prisons in Sweden were equipped with communication systems, cells pretty much just had lamps.”

Resisting vandalism, reducing down-time

Dahlgren also notes that stations placed in prisons must be vandal- and tamper-resistant, and he’s seen cell stations vandalized with everything from tea to toilet paper. Installing solutions that resist this kind of vandalization serves to ensure smoother operations, by further decreasing the likelihood that prison staff need to close cells or temporarily relocate inmates.

“Prisons tend to check communication equipment on a daily basis,” Dahlgren says. “Having even one cell shut down leads to logistical and practical problems that divert attention away from other matters.”

More on Swedish prisons

Kriminalvården, the Swedish prison service, is divided into three sections:

  1. Frivård – Probation, parole, and community service arrangements
  2. Håkte – Custody arrangements pending investigation;
  3. Anstalt – Custody for those convicted of a crime

Sweden has one of the lowest rates of incarceration in the world, with about 4,400 inmates as of October 1, 2018.

Zenitel Prison Solutions

Dahlgren has provided Zenitel solutions to Swedish prisons for decades, and, in addition to tamper-resistant intercom stations, he says the AlphaCom server system is popular among RM Telecom’s clients.

“I’ve had a good experience with AlphaCom systems over the years,” says Dahlgren. “They integrate well with a lot of different systems like Lenel. That’s a big benefit.”

According to Dahlgren, it is imperative that solutions are easy to tailor to individual customers’ needs:“We always have the installers in mind. We want every installation job to be as easy as possible. There is a lot of customization and specialization that goes into offering solutions tailored to meet the highest of security and safety requirements.”

To learn more about Zenitel’s Prison Solutions, click here.

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