Digital Technology and Prison Reforms for the Win
Govciooutlook

Digital Technology and Prison Reforms for the Win

Gov CIO Outlook | Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The profound impact of education is most readily seen in prisoners. For instance, according to one research, it was that inmates who participated in correctional education programs had a 43 percent lower chance of relapse than inmates who did not.

FREMONT, CA: In America, the consequences of the modern prison complex are profound. According to one statistic, the correctional population in the U.S., including those on parole and probation, was 6.8 million in 2014. Of those 6.8 million, nearly 2.2 million or 32 percent were detained in the corrections system. With the cost of housing prisoners rising and prisons becoming more crowded, the state and federal governments have started reducing their prison population. Tens of thousands of these convicted criminals are released from prison each year and seek to reintegrate into society.

Recidivism

Recidivism or relapsing into criminal activity is a big issue with released felons. Although prison technically intends to be a corrective and rehabilitative system, according to one government agency, 67.8 percent of the inmates once released were re-arrested within three years. Of those, more than half were re-arrested in one year. This troubling figure, combined with overcrowding and budget cuts, has driven many correction agencies to become more proactive in finding cost-effective ways to resolve the problem of recidivism. Inmate education is one approach that has proved to be successful.Top Govt Tech Startups

Rehabilitation

The profound impact of education is most readily seen in prisoners. For instance, according to one research, it was that inmates who participated in correctional education programs had a 43 percent lower chance of relapse than inmates who did not.

Going Digital

Given the above issues and following a broader global trend in education, inmates have gradually been provided their educational material online. Consequently, several businesses have started to enter the space to provide specially designed content for inmates. One organization offered 'Advanced Certificate in Workforce Re-entry Skills,' an online training course for the prisoners. The Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) focuses on four main areas: basic learning skills, fundamental IT skills, customer support, and essential food hygiene training. Inmates learn how to create documents in Microsoft Word and modify spreadsheets using Microsoft Excel and are typically trained to work in the service industry, which employs most offenders.

While the online education program is a step in the right direction, the usefulness of the course offered online is restricted by computers' availability. Recognizing this constraint, another EdTech company developed a mobile tablet designed exclusively for prison use to provide as many prisoners with educational opportunities as possible. The tablet can be run on a closed prison network and offers a wide variety of educational material ranging from General Educational Development (GED) coursework to vocational training. The firm has improved learning by providing rewards for inmates to complete the course work on the tablet. When an inmate finishes a course, they are rewarded with points that can be used to purchase media on the computer.

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