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News: Recent responses to our online counselling proposal

          Online Services Proposal (Download)

ONLINE COUNSELLING IN PRISON CELLS Paper (Download)

  1.  INTRODUCTION

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is widely accepted as facilitating positive and long-lasting changes in offenders’ behaviour. Research has shown that when offered online, CBT is more effective than face-to-face therapy. This makes online counselling especially appropriate for the prison environment where physical and confidentiality obstacles can be overcome with technology. Additionally the 18 hours isolated in a cell become useful. The opportunity to implement CBT in prisons has yet to be taken but has international interest.  

    Despite its benefits, CBT should not be seen as a full solution to crime. Crime is socially constructed; the product of both the offender’s behaviour and society’s view of that behaviour. Overrepresentation of minorities in the prison system demonstrates how these groups suffer significant differences in law enforcement. In addressing this issue, the focus should be on the cultural, socio-political and economic factors causing discrimination, rather than the symptoms of that discrimination being treated as a crime.

    Studies have demonstrated how online CBT treatment programs are more effective than traditional face-to-face therapies. Key advantages of online CBT include:

    • * Particular advantages for the prison environment, considering the long periods of isolation in cells allowing for reflection and reinforcement
    • * More effective long-term changes in behaviour and thinking patterns of participants compared to those who completed therapy face-to-face
    • * Stability and continuity of the service provider is ensured throughout the sentence and after release

    • * Greater acceptance and trust in the counsellors due to therapy being conducted by an independent, external provider

      * Improved responsibility and empowerment by encouraging self-management
    • * More cost-effective than face-to-face therapy

    Early exposure to online CBT can be conducted from the time of arrest until the time of release. This enables more effective support, and benefits participants during the sentencing stage by demonstrating that offenders are accepting responsibility for their behaviour.



    Prisoners could personally make decisions about their own needs and become empowered and motivated to do online courses rather than being compelled to complete courses as a condition for release. Further, considering that prisoners are confined to their cells for 18 hours each day, online counselling presents an opportunity for them to use that time productively.

    Installing computers within prisoners’ cells – or even within their wings and pods – would provide access to online CBT programs, in addition to other legal, educational and pre-release tools. 

In jurisdictions such as Norway, the ACT and Victoria where computers in cells have been adopted, there have been benefits in reduced recidivism rates.[1]

    Online CBT would be an effective mechanism for reducing recidivism rates even further. 

Online CBT in prison cells is much more cost and time-effective than current face-to-face services, where numerous personnel are hired to complete the CBT programs. 



    This proposal is ground breaking as it involves new technology and was created by a unique partnership; an offenders’ support organisation, Justice Action, working with a victims’ support organisation, Enough is Enough. This proposal offers a challenge to existing funding streams that could not come from those service providers who currently benefit from them. Ultimately, it is an offering to reduce crime and create safer communities, from those most affected.

    2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Cognitive behavioural therapy is derived from two different fields, cognitive theory and behavioural theory. The former focuses on intrinsic mental thoughts whilst the latter deals with external behaviours.2 Behavioural theorists have found that as soon as undesirable conduct is recognised and altered, the individual’s mental thought processes and emotions also change. In this sense, cognitive behavioural therapy addresses the fundamental problem of undesirable modes of thinking, in order to prevent undesirable behaviours.3 By reducing the occurrence of undesirable thoughts, it is possible to achieve the ultimate outcome of lowered recidivism.

    2.1 The Impact on Behaviour

    The treatment first identifies problematic behaviours and thinking patterns, and then facilitates skill building in areas like moral reasoning and social skills.4 This is done in order to reduce and ultimately eradicate unhelpful or unhealthy thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It has proven very effective and is hence employed to treat people suffering from a plethora of mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, anger issues, low self esteem, sexual offending and eating disorders.5



    2.2 The Greater Effectiveness of Online CBT 

    Significantly, recent studies suggest that online CBT programs are more effective than conventional face-to-face programs. A study conducted by Wagner, Horn and Maercker6 comparing the effectiveness of face-to-face and online CBT exposed how online CBT was more successful in facilitating rehabilitation efforts. 



    The study assigned 62 patients to participate in either online or face-to-face forms of CBT therapy for an 8-week treatment course. Ultimately, both groups showed a significant drop in symptoms, demonstrating the overall effectiveness of CBT. However, there was a significant disparity between the patients of the online and face-to-face treatments. 7 Three months following the completion of the treatment courses, face-to-face CBT patients’ improvements had deteriorated while online participants demonstrated sustained and stable improvements. This is particularly pertinent when considering the potential for reduced recidivism rates. 

This can be attributed to the self-guided nature of online CBT treatment. Due to limited contact with a therapist, the course requires substantial personal responsibility in the completion of assignments and treatment modules. This is notably different to face-to-face models, where the therapist constantly guides the participant.

    Hence, online treatments teach the participant to handle any negative thoughts and depressive behaviour themselves. This in turn stimulates a maintained and long-lasting sense of self-awareness, self-efficiency, and self-worth.8 

While this specific study involved a relatively small sample size, similar conclusions have been reached in various other research projects, such as that conducted by Titov et al. 9 and Helgadottir et al.10

    Both of these studies yielded results demonstrating that face-to-face therapy does not necessarily enable long-term independent progress post-treatment, whereas online therapies can generate tools and materials, both physical and mental, which participants can use to reflect upon even after treatment has ceased.  

Ultimately, online CBT programs are more efficient at rehabilitating patients. Furthermore, an online therapist relationship can ensure geographical or physical obstacles do not hinder stability or access to services. As such, extensive utilisation of this online therapy mechanism in Australian prisons would likely have a significant impact on reducing recidivism rates.

    2.3 Online CBT for Prisoners 

    The aforementioned discussion shows that there is evidence of the overall benefits of online therapy for wider society, in the form of reduced recidivism rates. Notably, there are further benefits to online CBT, specific to prisoners. These include healthy relationships between counsellor and patient, ensured confidentiality, enhanced stability in the therapist relationship continuing after release   and an improved therapeutic emphasis. These benefits have been recognised and as a result CBT is already employed in prison systems throughout the world.11

    Paramount to any type of counselling or therapy service is a relationship of trust and mutual respect between the therapist and the patient. The difficulties with establishing this relationship are often exacerbated within a prison environment. Since incarcerated offenders can often hold resentment towards the criminal justice system, the provision of therapy by this system is treated with equal caution. It is possible that prisoners may never form the necessary relationship to make and maintain any progress in dealing with their mental illness.

    Additionally, the issue of confidentiality is paramount in areas of mental health therapy. It is especially significant to prisoners. Defining and prioritising the confidentiality protocols that exist between patient and counsellor is integral to building trust. Online counselling delivers a clearer understanding of these protocols. 

    Furthermore, current counselling undertaken in prisons is not of a wholly therapeutic nature. It is often corrupted by the power and discretions granted to the prison psychologists, whose primary role is to assess, report, classify risk and grant parole. Given the likelihood that prisoners will say what is needed in order to achieve parole, the purpose of the current services is undermined. It is for this reason that therapeutic counselling within prisons should be provided by an external and independent service; a counselling mechanism easily enabled by the implementation of online CBT programs. 

    Given these circumstances, it is proposed that a non-government organisation should provide the counselling services. The possibility of prisoners questioning the power balance between them and their counsellor and issues of trust can be minimised, as the non-government organisation has no obligation to report on the prisoner unless required by ethical standards and protocols.

    Lastly, a productive relationship is built on trust which takes time to develop. However, the common experience of people in prison includes multiple prison transfers. These transfers prevent prisoners forming stable relationships. With each transfer the prisoner is forced to abandon their relationship with one therapist, and start anew with an unknown therapist. This impedes recovery.

    3. Implementation  

    3.1 Computers in Cells 

    In order to successfully implement online CBT in prisons and effectively provide each prisoner sufficient rehabilitation opportunities, a computer should be installed in each cell. As it currently stands, access to computers is limited to specific areas of the prison. Further, the number of computers provided is insufficient to service the number of prisoners who want to use them. 

    
An evaluation at Vanderbilt University of the effectiveness of different methods, practices and approaches to intervention among young offenders found that therapeutic methods, such as counselling, made the most significant contribution in lowering criminal conduct. This was especially compared to other forms of interventions, such as deterrence or punishment.12 Hence, implementing online therapy in cells would be an effective use of government and taxpayer money in combating criminal conduct. The NSW government is currently spending $210 per prisoner per day,13 to place prisoners in a cell for 18 hours with a television and not much more. With access to online therapy in cells, more value is attained per dollar of spending. 

    
Considering all the benefits of online CBT, the reasons behind a lack of widespread implementation should be considered. The most apparent reason is that there are too few computers to make the use of online CBT effective. While some correctional facilities do have computers, they are limited in number. Effective implementation of CBT as detailed in Section Two would require a substantial increase in the number of computers placed in prisons, primarily in cells, and if this is not possible, in prison wings. While the installation of computers in cells would incur an initial increase in cost, the long-term consequences of online CBT treatments would significantly decrease costs associated with the sentencing and rehabilitation of prisoners. 

    First, the decrease in the number of personnel required would allow for a reallocation of psychologists’ services to other programs. This is not only cost-effective, but also benefits the wider community by increasing the pool of psychologists available for other public services. Second, the improvement in prisoners’ mental and emotional wellbeing, and the subsequent potential for reduced recidivism rates, is inherently beneficial in improving the safety of the wider community, the wellbeing of individual prisoners, and the strains upon both correctional facilities and courts. Third, even the use of a DVD or CD that provides the prisoner with proven self-help measures can be sufficient for CBT treatments. This would incur minimal costs. 

    In order to enable the most effective use of CBT, treatment would need to commence at the earliest possible time14. If delivered online in cells, not only could treatment occur from the point a prisoner is first arrested, but it could also be accessed at times that best suits them. This would ensure that they are receiving the full benefits of online therapy, empowering themselves to take action for any mental and behavioural issues. This enables an embracing of skills which maintain positive transformation, as supported by Wagner, Horn and Maercker’s study.15 

    We propose that a counselling portal that is directly linked to MoodGYM, Enough is Enough or another online CBT service be added to the existing employment, legal and education portals at the South Coast Correctional Centre. We believe that this counselling portal be directly linked a reputable online CBT service, such as MoodGYM, to ensure confidentiality and to guarantee effective monitoring of Internet usage. 

    We have devised a model for security standards to ensure that the computers are not misused. A detailed list of requirements and prohibitions can be found in Appendix 1 ‘Establishing Security Standards for Computers in Cells’. Concerns of abuse are being increasingly nullified due to off-the-shelf products such as Cyber PrisonPC. 

    If the program is successfully piloted alongside the employment portal at the South Coast Correctional Centre, the implementation of the program throughout all prisons in NSW should be considered. 

    We also propose that counselling be offered over the phone to prisoners as an adjunct or alternative to online counselling. This too should be accessible from arrest to release and be used to contact external psychiatric professionals at times when prisoners feel a need for support and advice. 

      

    3.2 Additional Benefits of Computers in Cells 

    In addition to providing access to CBT, having computers in cells provides other effective tools for rehabilitation, as well as ensuring compliance with international laws. 

    
First, computers facilitate communication with friends, family, and necessary support services– including legal and religious services. They are essential tools for modern day living.16 Indeed, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) views the Internet as a key mechanism enabling individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.17 Thus, in acting as a facilitator of free expression, the Internet can be considered a corollary of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Therefore, not only should every prisoner have access to computers in their cells, but secure monitored Internet access should also be available. 


    Computers are also useful mechanisms for rehabilitation and preparing prisoners for their release back into society by encouraging education and developing skills that are necessary for securing jobs and maintaining long-term mental and behavioural stability. Of the 10,000 prisoners in NSW, up to 60% have not completed year 10,18 and only 1.3% are currently engaged with higher education.19 While many of these prisoners are keen to further their studies, the opportunity to do so is simply not provided during incarceration. 

    3.3 Examples of Success 

    While most prisons do not provide sufficient technological resources for prisoner needs, a few have met the challenge. These prisons include the Alexander Maconochie Centre in ACT, The Metropolitan Remand Centre in Victoria and the Skien High Security Prison in Norway.20   

    Alexander Maconochie Centre, ACT 

    ACT’s primary correctional centre was established in 2008 and is modelled on the notion of rehabilitation rather than punishment. Significantly, it has been noted as Australia’s first human rights prison.21 Computers in cells have been installed with the intention of furthering prisoners’ educational opportunities for their release back into society and to reduce recidivism. A high standard of computer security measures have been implemented to minimise abuse and to ensure prisoners are maximising their productivity while in their cells. In addition, they have constructed a dedicated Education and Programs building to further facilitate higher learning. 

    Metropolitan Remand Centre, Victoria

    Prisoners at this centre are able to use computers within their cells. These computers are limited to programs that aim to improve education, training and legal knowledge. However, to be granted this privilege, the prisoner must fund the costs entirely themselves; “access to a computer in the cells of prisoners is a privilege, not a right, for all prisoners. Prisoners who can demonstrate a need for a computer must make an application to purchase a computer, be able to pay for the purchase of an approved computer and software, and abide by the rules regarding computer use and restrictions on software and games”.22 The computer access at this centre is a positive step but a proposed change is that that all prisoners receive equal treatment in regards to computer access. Currently, access to computers in one’s cell is determined by financial capacity. 

    Skien High Security Prison, Norway

     In this correctional facility, computers are not only provided in classrooms throughout the prison, but also in each individual cell.23 While security protocols remain intact through firewalls,24 prisoners are granted restricted access to Internet sites that will aid in the furthering of education and legal awareness. Combined with various other approaches that focus on an offender’s rehabilitation rather than simply their punishment, Norway’s recidivism rate is at 20%,25 in comparison to the recidivism rate of Australia, which is currently at 60%.26 

    4. Service Providers 

    In order to institute online counselling in prison cells, we propose that service providers with an established history within the areas of computers in prisons and online CBT be used. We would recommend MoodGYM, Enough is Enough and Cyber PrisonPC as most beneficial for use in prison cells. 

    MoodGYM

    Through managerial approval, prisoners should be granted access to the online counselling service MoodGYM. This is a reputable service that is accessed around the world and has assisted many of their registered users with their process of prevention, treatment and continuing care.27

     


    MoodGYM has been developed and evaluated by The ANU Mental Health Research Centre as part of their e-mental health research and development group. 28 MoodGYM was created as an innovative and interactive program to deliver workshops, tools and personal feedback into long term coping skills for those who suffer from depression and anxiety.29 MoodGYM aims for early intervention,30 and it is for this reason that online CBT should be used throughout a prisoner’s incarceration, even from the time of arrest. 

    MoodGYM is an accredited online program, receiving government funding and support for its effective structure and practice. It has met standards from the Australian National Standards for Mental Health Services and the Quality Framework for Telephone Counselling and Internet-based Support Services.31 


    MoodGYM is a free online CBT service supported and funded by the Australian Government. The MoodGYM approach to online CBT is completed through undertaking five modules – an interactive game, anxiety and depression assessments, downloadable relaxation audio, a workbook and feedback assessments.32 Although there is virtual interaction with a therapist through sending worksheets and gaining feedback to issues and questions, physical interaction does not need to occur. This results in the participant feeling more secure to honestly disclose their personal issues without fear of adverse consequences if confidentiality cannot be assured in face-to-face encounters with therapists associated with the correctional facility. 

    Those who have not participated in online counselling may fear that it neglects essential personal contact that is necessary for treatment for mental illness. However, participation of family and friends is an important element in the modules of MoodGYM’s online CBT.33 Familial contact and support is a recognised element in offender rehabilitation and sustained behavioural changes.34 

    Furthermore, a personal connection is developed with the therapist, however atypical it may be to the normative way of counselling. According to the study by Wagner, Horn and Maercker, 96% of the participants in the online group described the contact between themselves and the therapist as personal, compared to 91% in the face-to-face group.35 This can be attributed to the increased sense of trust and confidentiality. 


    Importantly, MoodGYM is free of charge and confidential through a user login. Its structured approach means that the course must be completed in a certain order that has been proven as most beneficial for the patient. It provides ‘automated feedback and advice based on their answers to symptom and other self-report measures’,36 and is carried out under the supervision of a clinical psychologist.37 

    In using this program, the prisoner is provided with practical coping skills and relaxation techniques that can be used throughout their daily lives even after completion of the course. Moreover, the course has a specific end point, giving the patient something to work towards and a sense of achievement once it is completed.38 

    Enough is Enough 
Enough is Enough, a victim support group, provides anti-violence counselling and support services focusing on the principles of restorative justice. It is also involved with innovative and effective prison counselling services, which are key aspects to the proposal.

    The services that Enough is Enough offer ‘focus on reducing the level of violence and its impact on society by offering practical strategies to deal with challenges, encouraging personal responsibility, building resilience and developing outside the square thinking’.

Enough is Enough currently has various programs including “The R-Program”, “The R-Youth Program”, the “Peacemaker Project” and the “Enough is Enough Bully Program” that are already established and implemented throughout the community and within prisons. They have years of experience in both over the phone counselling and online counselling and are willing to dedicate their time, resources and personnel into this project as they have discovered how much potential it could have for changes in prisoners’ behaviour and their ongoing rehabilitation.



    Cyber IT Solutions PrisonPC

    The hardware provider, Cyber IT Solutions, should be considered to install the computers. This is an already established and experienced service provider that has contributed to computers in cells in Alexander Maconochie Centre in the ACT, the Metropolitan Remand Centre in Victoria and the Marngoneet Facility in Victoria. 
Cyber PrisonPC provides desktops that are “resilient to any method of permanent user modification or unauthorised changes” 40 and ensures a “centrally managed computing system, enabling custodial staff to manage all desktops from a single, isolated location”41 for ease of management and security. The effectiveness of the PrisonPC system can be observed in the Alexander Maconochie Center where the monitoring system has already prevented potential security breaches.42 
The PrisonPC system allows access to complete office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.), PDF document viewer, educational software, games (solitaire, etc.) and extensive online assistance.43 Access can also be granted to approved web sites and email addresses, allowing online CBT counselling to be used. 



    5. Public Support for Program Implementation 

    The initial set-up of computers in cells will incur a relatively large initial cost, however, in the long term, there is a potential for cost reductions in various areas, both for the Department of Corrective Services and taxpayers. Justice Action has previously gathered support for the computers in cells initiative and for providing the computers that would be necessary to implement online counselling. A list can be found in Appendix 2. It is also imperative to note the long-term financial and social benefits of implementing online CBT programs in balancing the costs of initially instituting access to computers. 
Further, we are also currently in communication with MoodGYM and Enough is Enough regarding its use within prison cells. We have received some positive feedback and support from them for their proposed use within prisons. These organisations also believe that it will be a useful counselling mechanism for offenders and as such, have expressed an open channel for any further communications. 

    6. Conclusion 

    Online counselling should not simply be considered another way to treat prisoners, but be recognised as the most effective way to treat them in order to maintain long-lasting results and reduce the currently high recidivism rates in New South Wales and Australia. 

    While the current use of CBT therapies within institutions is a significant step in prisoner rehabilitation, it is not sufficient to establish and maintain effective measures to prevent reoffending once treatment has been averted or the prisoner has been released back into society. 

    Current delivery of CBT in prisons is left as a means to an end: to achieve release and not to rehabilitate. It does not embrace the fundamental nature of the service; to recognise the individuals’ problem and learn effective ways of managing it in the future. Online CBT however, has been proven to effectively achieve this and therefore could contribute to significant change of prisoners’ behaviour and reoffending rates.

    7. References 

    Refer to ONLINE COUNSELLING IN PRISON CELLS PROPOSAL - Justice Action (Download) for references.

    8. Appendix 

    Appendix 1: Establishing Security Standards for Computers in Cells

    INTRODUCTION 

    It is essential that some formal principles about computer access for people in detention are immediately established, as this is basic to any serious attempt to nationally implement a computers in cells (CIC) program. The aim is to fully defend the CIC system against any abuses that could place the community, prisons or prison staff at risk. The security standards should become the base upon which other jurisdictions can securely form their computer systems. 

    It is proposed that these standards be universally accepted and adjusted as necessary as the agreed ‘gold standard’ of good prison management for computer access. 

    Through these security standards we intend to preemptively address any security concerns relating to the implementation of computers in prisoners’ cells. The computers in cells system should be simple and safe, but also involve prisoners themselves in taking a measure of individual responsibility, just as everyone does within the general community. It is essential that authorities recognise the principle of individual responsibility as opposed to collective responsibility, and ensure that only those inmates who abuse the system should be punished. In the event that abuses of the computers in cells system does occur, transgressors must be dealt with individually. 

    Any new proposal within the prison system is a disturbance of the status quo. There will be a high level of emotional response from administrators and staff who are accustomed to operating in a tightly controlled and restricted environment and always resent any benefits to prisoners. Those who have little knowledge of IT and low education levels will be suspicious and distrustful of the computers in cells system. As a consequence, some administrators and staff have in the past deliberately sabotaged new systems, therefore it is necessary that we provide stated standards by which it can be judged to ensure that computers in cells are protected. 

    Obviously there will be different areas of risk concerned with stand-alone systems and those with internet access, all of which need to and will be addressed by the current supplier of prisoner computer services. 

    RISKS 

    In relation to instances of abuse of the system, there are specific areas of concern to be addressed in order to maintain the integrity of the system. Those concerns include escape, crime including sex offences, contacting victims and access to pornography.   

    CASE HISTORIES OF BREACHES   

    (‘Clearing House’ – Opportunity to lodge experiences) 

     There have been examples of past cases whereby security breaches have occurred, however the current technology can address all of these issues. 

    Case History 1

    In this instance it was reported that child pornography had been smuggled into Ararat prison, Victoria (Australia) through USB storage devices and memory cards.http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/evil-killer-robert-arthur-selby-lower-running-jail-sex-ring/story-e6frf7kx-1225966143895 

    Case History 2

    In another situation at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, Australian Capital Territory (Australia) a prisoner used internet access to send a garbled message via email to The Canberra Times. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/friends-family-of-inmates-protest-reduction-in-prison-visiting-opportunities-20160413-go55n0.html

    Case History 3

    At Barwon prison, Victoria (Australia) an inmate was found with a disc containing dozens of offensive pornographic images. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/killers-porn-stash/story-e6frf7kx-1225949091210 

    Case History 4

    Thirty Facebook pages across the United Kingdom were taken down after it was discovered that prisoners were using their profiles to taunt their victims. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/feb/11/facebook-prisoners-taunts-jack-straw 

    SOLUTIONS TO SECURITY BREACHES 

    Logging and Monitoring

    Extensive logging of user sessions is recorded in the computer supplier’s server system logs for custodial staff to audit later if required. Custodial staff can remotely monitor or control prisoner desktops, for remote support or for clandestine monitoring. 

    Print Accounting and Identification 
All printing is logged with the computer suppliers system so that the associated costs can be charged to the prisoners. All documents are marked with clear identification of the prisoner who printed them. 

    Enforced Curfew 
The computer supplier ensures desktop computers can be automatically shutdown at a nominated 'lights-out' time. Prisoners are unable to use the computers until the curfew is automatically lifted. 

    Unauthorised Memory Devices 
Technologies such as high density USB storage devices, DVDs and 3G modems have been known to be smuggled into or out of prisons as a means of communication or for access to non-approved media. To address this, the computer supplier has explicitly disabled the use of any modem or USB storage device and has blocked access to optical media containing video or data content unless it has been analysed and approved by staff. Any attempt to access unapproved media will alert custodial staff. 

    Access to DVD or CD media may also be restricted to specific users or desktops. Although prisoners may try to smuggle such devices in and out the facility, they will not be able to access the content or upload content to the device. 

    Unauthorised Email Messages 
Through the computer supplier’s system, prisoners are provided with access to a secure email so that they can contact a restricted and monitored amount of people (such as their solicitor and family members). Emails are filtered through a security system in order to monitor inappropriate information. 

    Unauthorised Website Access 
The computer supplier blocks all access to any unapproved websites, of course including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and any other social networking sites that could give prisoners access to victims. 

    CONCLUSION 

    Current technology and security measures allow for the safe use of computers by prisoners. With recidivism rates over 40% it is important to implement CIC programs within Australian prisons. See the ‘Computers in Cells Proposal’ for in-depth analysis about how CIC will reduce recidivism creating a safer community. 

    7. References 

Refer to ONLINE COUNSELLING IN PRISON CELLS PROPOSAL - Justice Action (Download) for references.

8. Appendix

Appendix 1: Establishing Security Standards for Computers in Cells 

INTRODUCTION 

It is essential that some formal principles about computer access for people in detention are immediately established, as this is basic to any serious attempt to nationally implement a computers in cells (CIC) program. The aim is to fully defend the CIC system against any abuses that could place the community, prisons or prison staff at risk. The security standards should become the base upon which other jurisdictions can securely form their computer systems.

It is proposed that these standards be universally accepted and adjusted as necessary as the agreed ‘gold standard’ of good prison management for computer access.

Through these security standards we intend to preemptively address any security concerns relating to the implementation of computers in prisoners’ cells. The computers in cells system should be simple and safe, but also involve prisoners themselves in taking a measure of individual responsibility, just as everyone does within the general community. It is essential that authorities recognise the principle of individual responsibility as opposed to collective responsibility, and ensure that only those inmates who abuse the system should be punished. In the event that abuses of the computers in cells system does occur, transgressors must be dealt with individually.

Any new proposal within the prison system is a disturbance of the status quo. There will be a high level of emotional response from administrators and staff who are accustomed to operating in a tightly controlled and restricted environment and always resent any benefits to prisoners. Those who have little knowledge of IT and low education levels will be suspicious and distrustful of the computers in cells system. As a consequence, some administrators and staff have in the past deliberately sabotaged new systems, therefore it is necessary that we provide stated standards by which it can be judged to ensure that computers in cells are protected.

Obviously there will be different areas of risk concerned with stand-alone systems and those with internet access, all of which need to and will be addressed by the current supplier of prisoner computer services.



RISKS 
In relation to instances of abuse of the system, there are specific areas of concern to be addressed in order to maintain the integrity of the system. Those concerns include escape, crime including sex offences, contacting victims and access to pornography.  

CASE HISTORIES OF BREACHES  

(‘Clearing House’ – Opportunity to lodge experiences) 

 There have been examples of past cases whereby security breaches have occurred, however the current technology can address all of these issues.

Case History 1 
In this instance it was reported that child pornography had been smuggled into Ararat prison, Victoria (Australia) through USB storage devices and memory cards.http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/evil-killer-robert-arthur-selby-lower-running-jail-sex-ring/story-e6frf7kx-1225966143895

Case History 2 
In another situation at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, Australian Capital Territory (Australia) a prisoner used internet access to send a garbled message via email to The Canberra Times. http://ww.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/jail-gets-tough-on-inmates-internet-access/1753016.aspx?storypage=1

Case History 3 
At Barwon prison, Victoria (Australia) an inmate was found with a disc containing dozens of offensive pornographic images. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/killers-porn-stash/story-e6frf7kx-1225949091210

Case History 4 
Thirty Facebook pages across the United Kingdom were taken down after it was discovered that prisoners were using their profiles to taunt their victims. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/feb/11/facebook-prisoners-taunts-jack-straw

SOLUTIONS TO SECURITY BREACHES 

Logging and Monitoring 

Extensive logging of user sessions is recorded in the computer supplier’s server system logs for custodial staff to audit later if required. Custodial staff can remotely monitor or control prisoner desktops, for remote support or for clandestine monitoring.

Print Accounting and Identification 
All printing is logged with the computer suppliers system so that the associated costs can be charged to the prisoners. All documents are marked with clear identification of the prisoner who printed them.

Enforced Curfew 
The computer supplier ensures desktop computers can be automatically shutdown at a nominated 'lights-out' time. Prisoners are unable to use the computers until the curfew is automatically lifted.


Unauthorised Memory Devices 
Technologies such as high density USB storage devices, DVDs and 3G modems have been known to be smuggled into or out of prisons as a means of communication or for access to non-approved media. To address this, the computer supplier has explicitly disabled the use of any modem or USB storage device and has blocked access to optical media containing video or data content unless it has been analysed and approved by staff. Any attempt to access unapproved media will alert custodial staff.

 Access to DVD or CD media may also be restricted to specific users or desktops. Although prisoners may try to smuggle such devices in and out the facility, they will not be able to access the content or upload content to the device.

Unauthorised Email Messages 
Through the computer supplier’s system, prisoners are provided with access to a secure email so that they can contact a restricted and monitored amount of people (such as their solicitor and family members). Emails are filtered through a security system in order to monitor inappropriate information.

Unauthorised Website Access 
The computer supplier blocks all access to any unapproved websites, of course including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and any other social networking sites that could give prisoners access to victims.

 

CONCLUSION 
Current technology and security measures allow for the safe use of computers by prisoners. With recidivism rates over 40% it is important to implement CIC programs within Australian prisons. See the ‘Computers in Cells Proposal’ for in-depth analysis about how CIC will reduce recidivism creating a safer community.

 
Appendix 2: Computers in Cells Support
 

LEGAL SERVICES SUPPORT

From: Will Hutchins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Date: Wed, 2 Mar 2011 10:59:53 +1100
Subject: Computers in cells 

Thanks for the material you recently sent which I have now had the chance to read. 

On behalf of Prisoners Legal Service, we strongly support the proposal. In addition to assisting inmates to positively occupy themselves during the many 'empty' hours in gaol, it would assist in accessing rehabilitation material, participating in higher education courses, vocational training, legal research and maintaining contact with family and friends. Without question, this would assist reintegration into society and reduce recidivism.

The only points that I can see that could be argued against introducing computers would be the cost and possible security breaches/misuse. However, your proposal more than adequately deals with these issues; and, the fact that computers have been successfully introduced in some interstate and overseas gaols shows that these concerns can be addressed.

Will Hutchins 
Senior Solicitor Prisoners Legal Service Legal Aid NSW
8688 3963 

CHAPLAIN SERVICES SUPPORT

From: Rod Moore <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2011 14:45:52 +1100 
Subject: Re: Rod: Computers in Cells/Chaplain support 

I write to lend my support for the introduction of computers in cells. This is not a new idea and I have seen the presentation of this idea in the past. I believe it to be a valuable contribution to the overall effort to rehabilitate offenders.

An ever-increasing amount of time is being spent by inmates in cells and most of this time is wasted watching television and videos. The opportunity to participate in programs that address offending behaviour and increase opportunities for further education whilst in custody would be greatly enhanced through the careful programming of individual computers.

From a Religious perspective the opportunity for offenders to study and practice their spiritual traditions on a more regular basis through computer programs and studies would be of great benefit in assisting them to find meaning and purpose in their lives.

I hope and pray that the future sees this project realised. 

Rev'd Rod Moore. 

Chaplaincy Co-ordinator Corrective Services NSW. 
Oceania Representative International Prison Chaplains Association (IPCA) Chair of the Jigsaw Throughcare Group NSW

TEACHERS SUPPORT 

The NSW Teachers Federation representatives on the Community Justice Coalition have agreed to support the Computers in Cells Proposal and have taken it to senior officers for their official statement.

COMMUNITY JUSTICE COALITION and the INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS SUPPORT

The joint CJC/ICJ Education in Prisons Seminar in Parliament on November 25, 2010 unanimously passed a resolution giving inmates access to computers in their cells within a secure network environment.

CJC President David Bitel confirmed the CJC’s support of the Computers in Cells Proposal in a discussion with Sunaina Sharma.

POLITICAL PARTIES AT CJC JUSTICE FORUM SUPPORT

During the forum Saturday February 19, each party was questioned about their position on placing computers in cells. All of the responses were supportive and suggest that computers may be placed in cells soon. While the Coalition and Minister Costa held security concerns, these can be safely addressed, as shown in the ‘Computer in Cells Proposal’. The Greens recognised that all security risks could be eliminated within the program. 

Phillip Costa pointed out that Nowra Prison had been designed to receive computers in cells and that they were awaiting a political decision. He also stated that he “ believe[s computer are] a very useful resource so long as you’ve got a capacity to maintain security and safety”. 

The Coalition also confirmed that they were in favour of the proposal with Greg Smith saying that “the only thing that worries me about the proposal is security”. 

Similarly, the Greens emphasised that they support computers in cells “with all of the appropriate IT restraints [which are] clearly within the grasp of the NSW government”. They also insisted that if a key aim of corrective services is rehabilitation, then computers are needed in cells. Furthermore, they demonstrated that computers and internet access are needed to maintain relationships between parents and kids. Otherwise, children are being punished for crimes that they did not commit.

THE GREENS SUPPORT

David Shoebridge for the Greens has supplied a support statement dated February 25. 

CYBER PRISONPC 

The supplier of the computer systems to the ACT and Victoria has supplied a statement as to the security of its system.

 

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