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Topic: Whether prisoners should have access to technology and Internet in prisons

When choosing your topic, you need to consider:

1.How this topic relates to corrections.

You are welcome to incorporate information you learned from previous units; however, the research should focus on issues discussed in this unit.

2.The amount of available empirical evidence on that topic.

For instance, you may be very interested in the potential relationship between who people barrack for in the AFL and their risk of imprisonment. Although this topic is relevant to corrections, it is unlikely that there is much research into this issue. As such, it would be a poor choice for this essay. As mentioned above, you should include a minimum of five (5) peer-reviewed research articles in your essay.

3.Your understanding of the empirical evidence on that topic.

Your goal is to understand, integrate, synthesise and discuss the current state of knowledge on your topic. Think back to the research articles you have read in the past—some were likely easy to understand, whereas others were so filled with numbers and jargon that you couldn't even figure out what they were saying, let alone determine if the evidence supported their claims. In order to succeed in this assignment, you need to demonstrate that you understand their research design, their hypotheses and their main results. Once you understand what they did and what they found, you can integrate the findings from multiple studies to present a complete picture of our current knowledge on your topic.

Challenges of Prison Rehabilitation

Prisons and correctional systems keep evolving in order to fit into the ever-changing socio-economic environment. One of the emerging technological trends is technology and internet. Although technology and internet were invented several decades ago, it is not until recently that they start becoming part of the basic needs. This trend in use and spread of technology and internet calls for different institutions to readjust their policies accordingly in order to keep up with the trend. One of these institutions is prison. One of the dilemmas facing most of the prison laws is whether prisoners should have access to technology and Internet in prisons. So far, there is scanty literature related the issue. However, by answering questions such as what role to prison have? How can prison fulfill its role effectively? What rights do prisoners have and how can such rights be achieved? it will be easier to determine whether prisoners should have access to technology and Internet in prisons. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that prisoners should have access to technology and internet in prisons because the access will not only enable the prisons to achieve their mission of reintegration, reeducation and rehabilitation but also it will ensure that prisoners get their fundamental rights.

So far, there is scanty literature related to the feasibility of giving prisoners access to technology and Internet. This is attributable to the fact that most prisons in the world have not implemented this proposal. In fact, the only known county that has implemented the idea of giving prisoners access to technology and Internet is Finland (Lappi-Seppälä, 2006). In contrast to several countries where prison is more synonymous with reoffending than reintegration, Finland has been conducting a fairly successful prison policy experience for years. It is also one of the European countries where the incarceration rate is the lowest. For decades, Finland has been offering some prisoners - especially those at the end of their sentence - an active transition to civilian life.

Mobile phones, technological gadgets and internet represents very crucial tools that can be used to achieve not only the ultimate goals of prisons, which include reintegration and reeducation of prisoners but also to ensure that the prisoner’s fundamental rights as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in the Principle 1 of the Basic Principles on the Treatment of Prisoners. A mounting body of empirical evidence has demonstrated that mobile phones, technology and internet represent some of the potential measures and strategies for fulfilling not only the mission of the prison but also in fulfilling the fundamental human rights.

Benefits of Access to Technology in Prisons

A study by Byrne, Taxman & Young (2001) acknowledged that every day, prisoners leave the prison world and recover their freedom after serving their sentence. The study went ahead to note that most, poor, untrained, trailing physical and psychological diseases, are left to their own devices in a ruthless society. What are they becoming? What are the public authorities, the general delegation of the prison administration and reintegration, and the human rights associations, to help these ex-prisoners return to the path of dignity without too much damage? How many are they first, to regain their freedom every day?  Be that as it may, what fate does these prisoners expect when they recover their liberty? This is total chaos, or at least an unenviable spell. According to Youssef Madad, general secretary of one of the few associations created to help these former prisoners, the Center for Reintegration Assistance for Detainees (CRARD), a good part among them is still minor, it is "Notorious recidivists, which leads us to believe that far from being a place of rehabilitation and reintegration, the prison is a school of crime par excellence. In supporting the idea of using technology to reintegrate prisoners, Cadora (2003) noted that juveniles, convicted or not, but also barely young adults having been sentenced to prison terms not exceeding one or two years. Some, far from being experienced criminals, find in prison all the ingredients to become seasoned offenders (Tonry, 2004). The latest report on prisons prepared by the National Council for Human Rights leaves no doubt about this deleterious prison atmosphere, where thousands of prisoners, convicted or not, spend their stay: "Treatments cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the existence of places of torture in certain penitentiary establishments, the excessive use of discretion in the interpretation of offenses, abuse of recourse to administrative transfer as a disciplinary measure against detainees and lack of control and inspection procedures capable of putting an end to the various manifestations of corruption which characterize certain establishments to different degrees " (Clear, Rose, Waring & Scully, 2003). How not to come out of such a hate-filled, hateful prison with vengeance against a society and prisons that only exacerbate crime? To recover his freedom, under these conditions, is not the end of a painful episode, and the beginning of a new life where the ex-prisoner could say to himself: "I have served my sentence, I have paid my debt to society. I'm starting a new life. It's quite the opposite. By recovering his freedom, the ex-prisoner is confronted with all the harassment of the world. Reintegration itself, according to specialists in criminology and rehabilitation, does not begin by crossing the portal of a prison, but before, inside the prison, or even from the first day of incarceration. This is the first step they advocate. To fulfill this, technology and internet represent crucial tools. Through technology and internet, prisoners will be able to make connection and learn more about what is going on outside prison (Davis & Jackson, 2011; Hardyman, Austin & Peyton, 2004; Kingsley & Petit, 2000)). As revealed by Manning (2010), when prisoners are given technologies such as mobile phone, they will be able to get updated about their properties, relatives and this will reduce issue of stigma.  It is therefore advisable for the correctional systems never to deprive the prisoner to keep in touch with society, family, friends, civil society (Hairston, 1991). On the contrary, it should be encouraged to communicate with the outside world. Any social reintegration depends on it, the number of recidivism (50%) is there to show that the prisoner was not at all supervised and prepared to reintegrate the society, and to be reconciled with it (Manning 2010). The very mission of the prison agency is to implement all the conditions for a better reintegration into society and that in modern era, mobile phones, internet and other technologies represents integral tools of reintegration process. Through these technologies, prisoners can interact with their relatives and friends and this will ensure their social well-being is achieved despite being in prison.

Feasibility of Open Prisons

Technology and internet also foster what is called open prisons. Open prisons have been found to be the most effective prison systems. Under open prison system, prisoners have many privileges. They can surf, pet bunnies , plant vegetables and walk in the open air. In some Finnish prisons, detainees have neither secure doors to go through nor uniform to wear. Their cells are not really there: everyone lives in a room with a single bed and shares showers, kitchens, giant screens and saunas with others. Outside, ponds and pastures add to the place of camp summer tunes. Yet it is indeed a prison. In Finland, there are thirteen, which account for more than a third of the country's prison population (Wright, 2003). The effectiveness of open prisons, which even allow the use of mobile phone is evidenced in the case of Scandinavian countries. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Scandinavian state had one of the highest imprisonment rates in Europe, in addition to "offering" miserable prison conditions (Hofer, 2003). Collective awareness led to the establishment of a long-term reductionist policy: the limit of pre-trial detention (1970), the introduction of community service (1995), and parole under electronic supervision (2001), or the generalization of parole (currently, almost 99% of prisoners released from prison are released on parole). It is also in this context that open prisons were set up, including one in Helsinki in 2006. Their big advantage is to better prepare prisoners for rehabilitation within society. In addition to benefiting from programs of help to get out of problems of alcoholism or drug addiction, they can go fishing, camping and, above all, work (as a storekeeper, gardener ...), for a salary 7 euros per hour. In addition, open prisons require much less investment from governments, reducing by one third the cost per individual, given the drastic reduction in the need for personnel and security systems (Haney 2003).

Today, thanks to reduced prison time and alternative sentences, Finland has reduced its prison population by two-thirds, "without having a negative impact on the country's crime curve , " says Tapio Lappi-Seppälä, head of the Institute of Criminology, University of Helsinki. "This shows that imprisonment [in the long run] is useless" (Lappi-Seppälä, 2001).

Besides technology and internet being crucial tools for reintegration and reeducation, other studies have focused on deontological aspect of mobile phones, technologies and internet in prisons. Deontologically, one way of determining if an action is right or not is by considering it if it supports existing laws. Different studies have weighted the idea of allowing prisoners access technologies and internet in reference to existing laws and most of their findings are affirmative. Helliwell (2011), in reviewing the Singapore prison case, hinted that the prisoner is called to stay in prison for a time and presence of technologies and internet, according to Andrew (2002), ensures that this objective is achieved. Given the educational role of the prison, it prepares the prisoner for resocialization. Once released, the detainee must return to society and this can only be possible if his rights have been respected in the prison, if he has lived under human conditions (Helliwell 2011). The rights of the person deprived of liberty are enshrined in international and national standards. These rights are multiple and imperative. The right to property is indispensable insofar as it allows the prisoner to preserve his identity and not to feel definitively cut off from the outside world. However, the use of these goods is limited by the prison condition (Viljanen 2007). Prisoners may freely dispose of them, sell them, lend them to a third party, acquire new ones, for example by inheritance, donations or purchase. Prison authorities must not intervene in the course of these various transactions.  When the prisoner is admitted to the institution, the laws regulate the custody of his property by the prison administration (Sharon 2008).

Scandinavian Success

According to Rose & Clear (2003) prisoners also have the right to maintain their families and relationships. They (2003) added that these rights can be enhance and maintained through the use of modern technologies. The exercise of this right must be guaranteed in order to ensure that the detainee is properly prepared for re-socialization at the end of his detention. The detainee is allowed to receive marital, family and friendly visits. (Rules 37 and 92). These contacts must also be maintained by means of letter, telephone and electronic correspondence.

Referring to Principle 19 of the Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, Helliwell (2011) revealed that any person who is detained or imprisoned shall have the right to receive visits, in particular members of her family and to correspond in particular with them, and she must have adequate opportunities to communicate with the outside world subject to the conditions of reasonable restrictions that may be specified by law or regulations made in accordance with the law. " In addition, the detainee must be incarcerated near his home to facilitate family and friend visits. Such rights are just part of the measures designed to ensure that prisoners are not removed from their home situation (Grassian 2007). Referring to this right, Alison, Helen and Christina (2011) revealed that internet and technologies can even make it easier for the correctional system to ensure that prisoners are connected to their families and friend.

As suggested by Sridharan & Gillespie (2004), correctional institutions need to adopt new strategies in order to keep up with ever-changing socio-economic environment and the idea of technologies and internet in prison comes out as one of these new strategies. This provision means that the incarcerated person enjoys the fundamental rights that we can enumerate without claiming to be exhaustive: some of these include the right to personal fulfillment. Under this right, it is believed that occupation is a necessity for the prisoner (Haney 2003). As far as the work of the prisoner is concerned, the RMTs do not want it to be a means of exploitation. Moreover, Article 8.3 of the ICCPR prohibits slavery and forced labor. It also specifies that prison work must not be of an affective nature, that is to say, appear as a punishment. The work done by a prisoner must consider his aptitudes, his physical and mental condition and his choice ... This work must also be remunerated in an equitable manner and have the essential purpose of facilitating the reintegration of the prisoner upon release. This means that the administration will give back the nest egg it will have when it is released. Similarly, as far as right to personal fulfillment is concerned, it is considered that the prison must be a place where one learns how to live in society. The education of the illiterate is obligatory. The prison must literate those who were not before entering. For those who can read and write rule 40 recommends that a library be put in penitentiaries. Personal training through reading, writing and other means of occupation should be encouraged.

The Role of Technology in Open Prisons


The paper was designed to determine whether prisoners should be allowed to access technology and internet. The analysis mainly focused on how internet and technology can be of help to prison and prisoners. It was established that internet is one way of encouraging open prisons. Open prison has been implemented in some of the European countries such as Finland and the results from such implementation are positive (Lappi-Seppälä, 2006).  The analysis demonstrated how Scandinavian countries, which used to have highest rate of prisoners have reduced the number of prisoners thanks to the idea of open prisons, which allow prisoners to access technology, internet and other privileges such as doing farming.


Alison L., Helen A. and Christina S. (2011). An exploration of staff prisoner relationships at HMP Whitemoor: 12 years on. Revised final report, Ministry of Justice.

Andrew C. (2002). A human rights approach to prison management: handbook for prison staff. International Centre for Prison Studies, 2002, p13

Byrne, J.M., Taxman, F.S. & Young, D. (2001). Emerging Roles and Responsibilities in the Reentry Partnership Initiative: New Ways of Doing Business. Washington, D.C. National Institute of Justice.

Cadora, E. (2003). Criminal Justice and Health and Human services: An Exploration of Overlapping Needs, Resources and Interests in Brooklyn Neighborhoods, pp. 285ö312. In Travis, Jeremy and Waul, Michelle, eds. Prisoners Once Removed. Washington DC: Urban Institute Press.

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Hardyman, P. L., Austin, J., & Peyton, J. (2004). Prisoner Intake Systems: Assessing Needs and Classifying Prisoners. Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections.

Helliwell, J.F. (2011) Institutions as enablers of wellbeing: The Singapore prison case study. International Journal of Wellbeing, 1(2): 255–265.

Hofer, H. (2003). Prison populations as Political Constructs: The Case of Finland, Holland and Sweden. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention. 4:21-38.

Kingsley, T. G. & Petit, K. L.S. (2000). Getting to Know Neighborhoods. National Institute of Justice Journal, 10-17.

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Rose, D.R. & Clear, T. R. (2003). Incarceration, Reentry and Social Capital: Social Networks in the Balance, pp 313ö324. In Travis, Jeremy and Waul, Michelle, eds. Prisoners Once Removed. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

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