Wednesday, February 1, 2012

T'internet reaches prison!

Well, the prison service version of the internet, which isn't quite the same. Still, it allows them to claim we do have internet access and so you should be informed as to what this actually means.
It means access to the JobCentre vacancies database. Whoohoo! At some point it is hoped that there will be access to the Open University website.
And that, folks, comprises the totality of what the prison service calls the internet, and that is in Open prison to boot - where we can legitimately access the real Net whenever we are out and about in the community.
How the prison service responds to technological change is a consistent indicator of how forward thinking they are, of how elastic and creative the corporate mentality is. And yet again, they have shown themselves to be extremely timid and completely lacking in imagination.
It needs a particular sort of bureaucracy to take an incredible opportunity and squander it so magnificently.


  1. Good God, how dull is that; the job centre vacancy web site.. eugh :/

    These corporate bodies are weird regarding the net, for example they stopped anyone using computers and even took them away from our local mental health resource centres, which is just plain barmy, as nowadays, the net is one of the main resources for use in art and crafts (which is what they do in the centers).

    The healthy living centers, or health centers too, used to have net access, and now there is only one NHS web page you can access.

    Its silly, really, why are they all so frightened of facebook and twitter? Just what is their problem huh?

  2. I do have some sympathy with them on this front. Obviously we can't have prisoners getting full access to the internet because there is far too much opportunity for abuse* (which is, in some form, as inevitable as the press backlash and scapegoating that would follow it), so some censorship is required.

    Governments all over the world are discovering just how impossible the internet is to censor. If China and America can't do it, I fail to see how the prison service is going to manage.

    It seems an insoluble problem to me. I don't envy those that are burdened with the task of dealing with it.

    *I don't count your run-of-the-mill adult consensual porn in this bracket, although I can't imagine it making it through the censors either, should they ever figure out how to stop it.

  3. Bit unfair there Ben it's a positive move at the very least.

  4. So, my husband's in prison, and hey, he's not in there for looking at porn. He's in for white collar crime. He's repentant, wants to do some community work.... no internet access to research what's out there. Why does everyone think that all inmates are rushing to view porn? I went to visit t'other day and was astounded at the large paper ledger that the gate man was filling in, I half expected him to dip his quill in an ink pot. Prison service needs to get with the times, but it would involve job losses for a whole bunch of admin staff, so they blame their residents' desire for porn. And why are x-boxes allowed when a non-internet accessible laptop with an Excel package is not?

  5. Odd, isn't it (to Handmade...). When I worked at HMP Shepton Mallet, two similar laptops to the one you describe were donated by the Royal British Legion for ex servicemen to use. They had been modified so the modems were removed (this was 2007) but they had been loaded with the latest version of Office. So they were, in effect, word processors with excel. They didn't get further than the gate. Paranoia on the part of the prison did not allow them to reach their intended destination - the education dept. What a waste!

  6. I work for Loughborough University, and we produce career guidance software called Adult Directions - we think this could be of use in prisons? It has to be accessed via the internet - do you think this sort of thing could be possible?

  7. @Anon, anything that could help cons get a job would be useful. The Net, as seen by the prison service, is called the "Virtual Campus" and already includes careers toolkits. Whether it is of use is for history to judge.