COVID Connected: Computers in prison cells
Media release 12 August 2020
“COVID-19 has dramatically disconnected us from each other. But for those held in prison cells it has enabled vital connections. For the last five months visits to NSW prisons have been banned and been replaced by video visits using 430 computer tablets. This experience has led to good general acceptance by staff in correctional centres. This breakthrough now allows rehabilitation services to be delivered into cells, including access to white-listed secure internet sites. This is consistent with the Government’s aim to reduce recidivism” said the Hon John Dowd AO QC, President of the Community Justice Coalition.
“The overwhelming success was to enable 70,204 family visits to date. Twenty percent of video ‘visitors’ were from interstate or overseas, people who would normally not be able to visit inmates.
We have been advised that the infrastructure is in place at Dillwynia Women's Correctional Centre and John Morony Correctional Centre to support the roll out of tablets to all the prisoners by September.
After that there is capacity to bring on six jails at a time, subject to funding, starting in September. Lessening the isolation through this technology is for the benefit of the whole community” said the Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC, former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.
“As well as having telephony capacity, the tablets will have access to digital mental health services. This flags the beginning of services that will support prisoners experiencing disorders exacerbating drug use and violence. Computers in cells have proven to have positive outcomes in other jurisdictions in reducing the reoffending rate.
It is also a real opportunity to implement new education strategies and introduce behavioural change material. This is a new era for NSW prisons by taking an inclusive approach to rehabilitation and lessening the number of victims in our society” said Ken Marslew, CEO Founder, Enough is Enough Anti Violence Movement Inc.
GTL and Telstra are the technology providers.