December 19, 2023

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Use of Technology in Inmate Programs

Gordon Graham
Category: Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today I want to talk to my corrections friends about access to digital technology for inmates.   

We know the idea is taking hold, but many correctional leaders have some reservations. The biggest question: Does using digital technology pose a security risk to the facility? 


And the answer is NO, assuming we do it right. In fact, there are some distinct advantages to integrating digital technology – such as tablets – into your inmate programs. 


Let’s start with education. We’ve long known that educational and vocational programs can reduce recidivism and promote successful re-entry into society after incarceration. While in-person programs are invaluable, using digital technology for education programs can make these opportunities available to more inmates. 


What about employment opportunities? The service industry is the largest employer of former offenders. Providing inmates with access to tablets or other technology can help them complete job training. It can also help build information technology skills essential for today’s job opportunities. 


Tablet technology can be used to provide religious programming, message and mail apps, and even streaming music. In some facilities, these privileges have been shown to decrease inmate misconduct, fights, altercations with staff, and even inmate suicides. And don’t forget about the labor and cost savings to your agency. Electronic research and learning materials can be managed without the storage and distribution needs of books and paper materials.  


And yes, there are security concerns, but they can be addressed. Inmates can be restricted to a local area network without access to the internet. Tablets can be programmed to access only preapproved educational materials. During a pilot test in one facility, inmates were instructed to attempt to breach the security mechanisms installed on their tablets. They were unable to do so. 


Successful correctional programs focus on security, rehabilitation, and reintegration. Done correctly, inmate access to digital technology can support these goals. 


And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off. 

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