Alabama Patent of the Month – June 2021

Willo Products Company, Inc. started as a metal fabrication company back in 1945. Overtime, they switched gears and focused on developing state-of-the-art detention locks and equipment. Many industry standard detention locks continue to rely on typical bolt and latch methods. These systems are easily manipulated and disarmed. For instance, a credit card can swipe the latch out of place, or a small piece of a trash bag could block the bolt from properly engaging. Both systems have another inherent weakness – since the locking portion (bolt or latch) extends out from the door, a solid force can break the lock. If a prisoner slams the door hard enough they could disengage the lock entirely. Willo Products have designed a new locking system which overcomes these limitations.

Their lock is positioned on both the door and the door jam. It has a sloped top that provides a level of protection from overhead abuse – so that a prisoner cannot break the lock by slamming something down on it. The lock utilizes both a regular and a roller bolt. A roller bolt “snaps” in and out of the strike to keep the door closed when it isn’t locked, removing the need for a door knob to open the door. 

The two halves of the lock are designed to sit flush against each other when closed, preventing access to the bolts when locked in place. Without access, there can be no tampering. The lock pocket housing (where the bolt slides in) is made hollow in this design, with a deeper pocket than traditional bolt locks. This deters the use of debris to try and stop the bolt from engaging as a noticeable amount of debris would be required. In addition, a tamper deterring strip of metal is positioned around the closing face on both sides of the door. This component has “teeth” to prevent inmates from trying to insert anything through the door jam. Any papers that are not stopped by the tamper deterring metal will be shredded by the teeth.

In addition to the physical modifications, Willow Products have included sensors to track whether the door is locked properly or not. This prevents the ability to tamper with the lock – for instance, through stuffing debris into the pocket housing. Once there is enough debris that the bolt fails to properly engage, the sensor will read this and a notification will be delivered to the associated computer. With improvements like these, the ability for inmates to tamper with locks is greatly reduced.

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