Prisoners need greater access to new technology to assist with their rehabilitation, as long as the risks are carefully managed, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he spoke at the Modernising Justice through Technology, Innovation and Efficiency conference in London.
Referring to the findings of a joint report by the Prison Reform Trust and Prisoners Education Trust, Through the Gateway: How Computers can Transform Rehabilitation, Mr Hardwick said that greater internet access could assist prisoners in looking for jobs and studying for qualifications as well as for making practical arrangements prior to their release. There are other potential benefits of using technology to modernise justice, including digital case management and improved efficiency in the day to day running of prisons, he added.
Nick Hardwick said:
“Like other risk management processes in a prison, prisoners’ access to new technologies and the internet needs to be based on risk assessment of the individual concerned and properly supervised.
“I don’t think we can go on with prisons in a pre-internet dark age: inefficient and wasteful and leaving prisoners woefully unprepared for the world they will face on release. I don’t believe you can modernise justice through new technology without addressing this. Yes, there are security issues to be addressed, but the technology allows every key stroke to be monitored and access can be risk assessed. We now need to get on with getting this part of prison policy to make its long overdue entrance into the 21st century.”
A copy of the speech can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website from 24 June 2014 at: http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons