TV-report : Lower Austria today, 16-08-2016, Jammer in Prisons

Reasonable measure: internet in prisons

Meckenheim, 14 December 2012
Everyone has the right of freedom of information. And it is not only the right of freedom of opinion and expression that is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The latter also includes the right of freedom to seek, receive and impart requested information and ideas through any media. These days, the number one information medium to do so is the internet. You will find a PC with internet access in nearly every German household, but rarely in prisons.

This is why voices are increasing who are denouncing this fact as an urgent deficit. At the same time first experiments are being launched that provide selected prisons with secure internet solutions. Until now, however, there are only two German states,  Hesse and Lower Saxony, that have created the necessary legislative framework for implementing measures like these in prisons. These framework conditions are also extremely restrictive.

All the same, Lower Saxony is planning a testing of restricted internet access in the Wolfenbüttel prison. Brandenburg could be next. An accordingly revised penal law has just passed the cabinet and is going to be enacted by parliament in spring.

But not all Bundesländer (German Federal Lands) – and the penal system is their matter since the federalism reform in 2006 – are open to the issue. Security and costs are arguments generally being countered from the political level. Although, today, new technologies ensure secure web access for prisoners.

Its proponents, therefore, argue that the primary objective of the penal system is to prepare prisoners for their reintegration into society in the best possible manner. Without internet access and the related channels of communication this is incomparably more difficult for them: looking for a job and a flat, dealing with public authorities and offices, gaining access to online banking and information – it is much easier for prisoners to deal with these jobs via internet than on other ways.

Besides, corresponding trials that were mostly conducted in other European countries showed that there was much less abuse than expected. And even these few cases could have been prevented by restrictive measures, such as the exclusion of certain prisoners, or reinforced controls by means of monitoring tools provided with the system. So, on the basis of the actual state of technical knowledge there is no reason for safety objections.

An advanced solution for secure internet access in prisons is PrisonMedia. The infotainment system was specifically designed for the use in prison cells. Meeting the latest technological standards, it is available in wallmount or mobile format and includes various optional functions as there are: restricted email access, prison intranet, text processing program, access to training and e-learning programmes, video / telephony, IPTV, radio, video recorder, DVD player, and input jack for game consoles. All this integrated in one compact housing and protected against vandalism and abuse by various intelligent safety mechanisms.