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By: Mark Corpora Section 1055-007 FOR COMPUTER USE IN PRISONS.

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1 By: Mark Corpora Section FOR COMPUTER USE IN PRISONS

2 There has been much debate over whether or not to allow incarcerated inmates to have computer access in Americas prison system Each state and the federal government have different viewpoints on the subject. Some do in fact allow inmates some form of restricted computer access while others restrict the practice altogether. There are both advantages and disadvantages in allowing inmates computer access within the prison system. Although there are some significant negatives that could arise by allowing inmates computer access, the positives clearly outweigh the negatives and computer access must be granted to the incarcerated individuals who populate Americas correctional system. THE CONTROVERSY

3 Computer use in prisons across America, and specifically internet access, has up until recently been severely restricted Even today, there are many states that do not allow inmates any form of internet access in prison Computer use in prison was primarily used for administrative purposes prior to inmates being allowed access. Some examples of the way computer were used for administrative purposes include Court arraignments Video visiting Parole hearings Prison industries Telemedicine Education programs HISTORY OF COMPUTERS IN PRISONS

4 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 Internet 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

5 However, the states that do not allow inmates personal access do allow other forms of access, including For learning purposes For commissary (food) account tracking Allowed to receive, not send, s 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

6 There are several intriguing arguments against allowing inmates 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 privilege 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

7 Security and Underserved Privileges 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 todays society that without it, the inmates are set up to fail once re-entered back in society. DEBUNKING THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST COMPUTER USE IN PRISON

8 Computer Literacy Todays society is built on computer use. Whether it be for work, communication, or for fun, nearly everyone must have computer literacy to survive. If inmates are not allowed to learn and develop their computer skills, they cannot be expected to successfully reintegrate into society and the recidivism rate will continue to rise. A study done found that nearly three-quarters of prison inmates never before used a computer (Harlow) Legal work By allowing inmates computer access, they will be able to successfully and quickly research statutes and case law regarding their cases and appeals. Further, computer access will allow inmates to defend themselves better during trial or during the appeals process. Productivity Productive inmates undoubtedly make less violent and stressed inmates. Use computer access to benefit the institution. Have the inmates use the computer to do menial tasks that can help the institution run more smoothly. ARGUMENTS FOR PRISON COMPUTER USE

9 Educational 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 GEDs 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

10 Mail 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

11 Because computer access has so many advantages, and because the internet is so flexible and diverse, allowing inmates the right to computer access can both aid the inmates rehabilitation while saving the prison system a lot 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!

12 There will undoubtedly be a steady increase in the number of computers in Americas 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…

13 "Computer use for/by Inmates." Corrections Compendium 34.2 (2009): Web. Harlow, Caroline Wolf, H. D. Jenkins, and Stephen Steurer. "GED Holders in Prison Read Better than those in the Household Population: Why?" Journal of Correctional Education 61.1 (2010): Web &FMT=7&DID= &RQT=309&cfc=1 McBeth, Cody. "Innovation at Work." Corrections Today 73.3 (2011): 26-. Web. c936cabb73cd%40sessionmgr11&vid=2&hid=17&bdata=JnNpdGU 9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=mth&AN= Nink, Carl, et al. "Expanding Distance Learning Access in Prisons: A Growing Need." Corrections Today 71.4 (2009): Web. c714f70e681d%40sessionmgr14&vid=1&hid=17&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZS ZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=mth&AN= c714f70e681d%40sessionmgr14&vid=1&hid=17&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZS ZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=mth&AN= WORKS CITED

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