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Survey Summary: Computer Use for/by Inmates

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 34 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2009 Pages: 24-31
Cece Hill
Date Published
8 pages
This article reports on a survey of 49 U.S. correctional systems and 5 Canadian correctional systems regarding their computer use for and by inmates.
Except for Hawaii, Iowa, Nebraska, and Nevada, the reporting U.S. systems use computers for inmate education programs, as do all five reporting Canadian Provinces. Thirty-six U.S. systems manage inmate health issues via telemedicine. Within the operation of prison industries, 38 U.S. systems use computers in a variety of ways, such as printing and computer-aided graphic design, processing orders, and tracking jobs. Four States reported using computers in call centers; no Canadian systems reported such computer use. Computers are used for court arraignments in 28 of the reporting U.S. systems and 4 in Canada. Video/computer use in parole hearings was reported by 32 U.S. systems, but none of the Canadian systems. Video visitation is an option in 10 U.S. systems and is pending in 5 additional systems. Regarding computer applications being used by inmates, inmates have personal computers available to them in nine U.S. systems. Access is restricted to word processing in Kansas, to legal purposes for Federal detainees in Maryland, and for all inmates in Manitoba and Newfoundland in Canada. Sending or receiving e-mails is not permitted in the Canadian systems, but is allowed in six U.S. systems, with some restrictions. Time limits are generally applied to inmates' use of computers, primarily to class periods. Inmate computer use is allowed during recreation in Maine, and 5 hours of use for legal purposes are allowed for Federal detainees in Maryland. Access to the Internet is denied in all but four jurisdictions. The four jurisdictions allow inmate Internet use only for legal and job-search purposes, and always under close monitoring. 3 tables