Technology in Prisons

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One estimate is that the total cost to the UK of recorded crime from re-offending is around £11 billion per year. Some of this money could therefore be better spent educating/training offenders and giving them a chance to be an asset to society. The challenge for the UK is do we have the imagination, commitment and political will to make this happen? I hope we do and I hope this report goes some way to stimulating debate regarding the future of education and training and the effective use of technology in prisons within the UK and Europe.

The aim of the 2010 ‘Technology in Prisons’ Travelling Fellowship was to:

• Identify how technology is being used, or could be used in the future, for the education and training of offenders in secure learning environments/upon release into the community and develop transferable model/s of good practice.

The objectives were to:
• visit Germany, Sweden and Norway to see how technology was being currently and the potential for the future:
• disseminate a set of multimedia exemplar case studies regarding the innovative use of technology to educate/train offenders in secure environments and upon release into the community;
• develop/highlight transferable models of good practice;
• highlight the needs of the learner;
• highlight security issues and barriers;
• suggest ways in which issues and barriers can be overcome;
• produce a report for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust; and
• highlight areas for further research and development.

These are just some of the common issues that affect the education and training of offenders in prison. Each country will have its own unique problems and solutions and these are discussed in more detail in this report:
• Ineffective use of new technology
• Fear of technology
• Fear of innovation
• Lack of effective leadership and policy decision making
• The quality and use of teaching and learning support staff
• The way in which teaching and support staff are employed and trained
• Short-term sentences
• Lack of fast-track enrolment for prisoners on short-term sentences
• Continuity of curriculum between prisons / the community
• No common curriculum (within prisons or linked to the community)
• Limited Curriculum Offer (mainly older/traditional trades)
• Poor learner tracking and e-portfolios (within prisons / release into the community)
• Lack of quality interactive multimedia learning materials
• Restricted access to technology (mainly supervised in learning centre)
• Staff awareness to the potential of technology
• Lack of interactive/continuous support (SKYPE/MSN etc.)
• Adverse publicity / perception of society toward the use of technology
• Lack of a basic education/training by learners
• Poor motivation/confidence of learners
• Lack of relevant job skills
• Poor after care of offenders
• Limited job, education or training opportunities on release from prison

How can technology help?
There are three areas where I consider technology can make a difference:

INDIVIDUALITY
• Individual learning styles
• Individual aims and objectives
• Independent learning
• Additionality / Differentiation
• e-portfolio
• On demand learning
• Just in time learning
• Learning for life skills

FLEXIBILITY
• On demand learning
• Multimedia learning materials
• Audio, video, animation etc.
• Interactive
• Self-assessment
• Hand Held/Mobile technology

CONTINUITY
• Consistent delivery
• On-line curriculum
• Continuity prison / community
• Common curriculum
• Consistent ‘virtual’ support

All of the above are discussed in some detail within the report.

July 26th, 2016 by