Technology as a means of rehabilitation: A measurable impact on reducing crime

Cynthia McDougall, Dominic Pearson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Although prisons aim to rehabilitate offenders and offer programs to change offending behavior, they rarely provide a culture that sustains such a change. This chapter describes how digital technology can impact on the dependency culture that exists in prisons. Prisoners have little opportunity for taking personal responsibility within a prison regime, so prison does not prepare them for managing their lives after release. Technology offers the opportunity to normalize the prison environment more closely with that of the outside world making the processes more efficient and encouraging self-responsibility and self-improvement in prisoners. This chapter describes the introduction of self-service kiosks, similar to those found in the community in supermarkets, travel centers, doctors’ surgeries, and job centers. The kiosks, accessed via biometric fingerprint identification, are located on wing landings and enable prisoners to complete tasks previously carried out by prison officers using resource-intensive paper-based systems. The functions on the kiosks include access to prisoner account balance, canteen shopping, menu ordering, visits booking, and applications for education. Processes of implementation are described, including staff and prisoner responses and frequency of use. Rigorous evaluation of the impact on performance measures of introducing the kiosks in a number of mainly private prisons in our recent research revealed a statistically significant reduction in adjudications for in-prison misbehavior including violence. Reoffending was also significantly lower than in prisons without self-service technology. Potentials for using the kiosks to develop the educational and rehabilitative functions of prisons are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of International Cybercrime and Cyberdeviance
EditorsT.J. Holt, A Bossler
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-78440-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-78439-7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019

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