FOR COMPUTER USE IN PRISONS

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Nov 3, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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By: Mark Corpora

Section 1055
-
007

FOR COMPUTER USE IN
PRISONS


There has been much debate over whether or not to al l ow
i ncarcerated i nmates to have computer access i n Ameri ca’ s
pri son system


Each state and the federal government have di f ferent
vi ewpoi nts on the subj ect. Some do i n fact al l ow i nmates
some form of restri cted computer access whi l e others restri ct
the practi ce al together.


There are both advantages and di sadvantages i n al l owi ng
i nmates computer access wi thi n the pri son system. Al though
there are some si gni fi cant negati ves that coul d ari se by
al l owi ng i nmates computer access, the posi ti ves cl earl y
outwei gh the negati ves and computer access must be granted
to the i ncarcerated i ndi vi duals who popul ate Ameri ca’s
correcti onal system.

THE CONTROVERSY


Computer use i n pri sons across Ameri ca, and speci fi call y
i nternet access, has up unti l recentl y been severel y restri cted


Even today, there are many states that do not al l ow i nmates
any form of i nternet access i n pri son


Computer use i n pri son was pri maril y used for admi ni strative
purposes pri or to i nmates bei ng al l owed access. Some
exampl es of the way computer were used for admi nistrative
purposes i ncl ude


Court arraignments


Video visiting


Parole hearings


Prison industries


Telemedicine


Education programs




HISTORY OF COMPUTERS IN PRISONS


Currently, there are only eight states and some federal
institutions that allow computer access for personal
use

(“Computer Use…”). Listed
below are the states that allow
computer access for personal
use


California


Connecticut


Iowa


Kansas (for word processing at some facilities)


Maine (limited)


Maryland (legal purposes for federal detainees only)


Utah


Washington


Wyoming


Numerous state statutory prohibitions against inmates accessing
the I nternet remain in force and were passed by state
legislatures at a time when the rapid development of technology
and infusion of educational resources
were
not readily foreseen
or clearly
envisioned

(
Nink
).

STATES THAT ALLOW PERSONAL
COMPUTER ACCESS


However, the states that do not al l ow i nmates personal access
do al l ow other forms of access, i ncl udi ng


For learning purposes


For commissary (food) account tracking


Allowed to receive, not send, emails


Work purposes

STATES THAT ALLOW PERSONAL
COMPUTER ACCESS

The booming technological
era has forced the correctional
system to rethink their
policies regarding computer
use and inmates


There are several i ntri gui ng arguments agai nst al l owi ng
i nmates computer access.


Security

is the most compelling argument against prison computer
use. With internet access, inmates can correspond with the outside
work quickly and efficiently, plan escapes, research what other
inmates are in for, and plan gang hits


Undeserved pri vilege
is another argument. There are millions of
people in the United States go do not have or can afford computers.
Allowing prisoners computer use does not seem justified.

Prison
should not have many, if any, privileges.

SOME REASONS AGAINST ALLOWING
PRISONS COMPUTER USE


Securi ty and Underserved Pri vi l eges


Any type of security threat in prison is significant. Not only does
each prison have the responsibility to keep the public safe from
felons, they must also keep the inmates safe as well. However, the
security risks computer access might bring about can quickly be
eliminated with strict monitoring of the inmates activity on the
computer. For example, the inmate can only access Word and other
educational/productive programs. Also, the inmate can only access
a pre
-
determined amount of sites verified by the Department of
Corrections


Although inmates do not deserve many privileges, computer use is a
necessity privilege not only to allow and encourage productivity,
computer literacy is so important in today’s society that without it,
the inmate’s are set up to fail once re
-
entered back in society.


DEBUNKING THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST
COMPUTER USE IN PRISON


Computer Li t eracy


Today’s society i s bui lt on computer use. Whether i t be for work,
communication, or for fun, nearly everyone must have computer l i teracy
to sur vive. If i nmates are not al l owed to l earn and develop their
computer skills, they cannot be expected to successfully reintegrate i nto
soci ety and the recidivism rate wi ll continue to ri se. A study done found
that nearly three
-
quarters of pri son i nmates never before used a
computer (Harlow)


Legal work


By al l owing i nmates computer access, they wi ll be abl e to successfully
and qui ckly research statutes and case l aw regarding their cases and
appeals. Further, computer access wi ll al low i nmates to defend
themselves better during tri al or during the appeals process.


Productivity


Productive i nmates undoubtedly make l ess vi olent and stressed i nmates.

ƒ
Use computer access to benefit the i nstitution. Have the i nmates use the
computer to do meni al tasks that can hel p the i nstitution run more
smoothly.

ARGUMENTS FOR PRISON COMPUTER
USE


Educati onal uses


Many inmates are uneducated. They lack any of the skills that
society expects from their citizens. Computers can be virtual
teachers for inmates, educating them in all subjects without the need
for physical teachers


Many inmates can attain GED’s while in prison through the use of
computers.
In fact, studies have suggested that inmates who
received their GED in prison scored higher on reading skills tests than
citizens with the same educational background (Harlow).


Below is a GED graduation ceremony for inmates in the Hawkins County Jail in Tennessee

ARGUMENTS FOR PRISON COMPUTER
USE


Mai l


Thousands and thousands of mail go in and out of any specific prison
a week. By having inmates correspond electronically, it eliminates
the hassle of sifting through the paper mail for security purposes.
Mike Atwood, a financial trustee with the BOP (Bureau of Prisons),
created the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS),
which allows inmates to send and receive written communication
through computers without being able to access the internet
(
McBeth
).


ARGUMENTS FOR PRISON COMPUTER
USE


Because computer access has so many advantages, and
because the i nternet i s so fl exi bl e and di verse, al l owi ng
i nmates the ri ght to computer access can both ai d the
i nmates rehabi l itation whi l e savi ng the pri son system a l ot of
money


No teacher or instructor salary


No money spent on mail clerks


Inmates can work a variety of jobs not offered before


Medical costs could decrease due to less tension and stress by inmates

IDEAS FOR FUTURE USE

Granting inmates computer access is the right way!


There will undoubtedly be a steady increase in
the number of computers in America’s prisons
and the amount of access allowed in the next
decade.


The law, corrections, and law enforcement
always seem to be a step behind in the ever
evolving technological world. It is only a
matter of time before the correctional system
adapts and allows inmates access to
computers across the nation


IN THE FUTURE…


"Computer use for/by Inmates."
Correcti ons Compendi um

34.2


(
2009):
24
-
31. Web.



Har l ow
, Car ol i ne Wol f, H. D. Jenki ns, and Stephen
Steur er
. "GED

Hol der s
i n Pr i son Read Better than those i n the Househol d

Popul ati on
: Why?"
Journal
of Correcti onal Educati on

61.1

(
2010): 68
-
92. Web.

http
://
pr oquest.umi.com/pqdl i nk?Ver =1&Exp=11
-
19
-

2016&FMT=7&DID=2021666701&RQT=309&cfc=1



McBeth
, Cody. "Innovati on at Wor k."
Correcti ons Today

73.3 ( 2011):

26
-
.
Web.
http://
web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detai l?si d=6ff61522
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mth&AN
=65096965



Nink
, Carl, et al. "Expanding Distance Learning Access in Prisons: A
Growing
Need."
Corrections Today

71.4 (2009): 40
-
3. Web
.

http
://
web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=26e5d38d
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