Mobiles in Prisons? It’s not as barmy as it sounds!

July 10, 2018 July 10, 2018 gomonews

The whole point of prison is punishment and rehabilitation. It’s a bit like sending a naughty kid to boarding school where discipline and skills are learned (and I know all about that one). But there is a fine balance.

My school had a policy of rewarding good behaviour, but punishing bad, it’s a balancing act on both sides. Because I knew how (and more crucially when) to behave, I had privileges that the other lads could only dream of. From being able to sneak off for a crafty smoke, to being able to go off grounds, these privileges were bestowed because I would behave. Believe me, in the first couple of weeks it caused riots.

I was also allowed to stay up until midnight reading, while lights out for everyone else was 9:30 sharp. I had unlimited access to the schools internet, the main IT server, even the printer. There wasn’t much I didn’t have access to. But that came at a cost to me. I had to behave and lead by example for the 90 other pupils in the place. But eventually, it did begin to work.

Now put this into a prison scenario. It takes time, but the message does eventually sink in. If a well behaved inmate is given a few affordable luxuries, such as being able to have access to a mobile device (that has been tapped) so they can call loved ones, it’s a huge incentive for them. Other inmates will bitch and moan like old fishwives, but then they’ll begin to realise that their behaviour is key to privilege, not their notoriety.

Slowly but surely in my final 3 years of boarding, I saw a huge shift in the younger pupils and how they behaved. From speaking properly and with respect to others to actually wearing their uniform properly, and the penny finally dropped, the better they behave, the more privilege they will be rewarded with. But if they stray off the straight and narrow, everything went, and they were back at square one.

The idea of prison isn’t only punishment and protection of the public, it’s about changing behavioural patterns too, and in most cases, behaviour can be changed with enough work put in. So I say roll out the scheme, but ensure it’s a reward for good behaviour, not simply given out as a welcome gift.

If you have a star inmate, you put them at the top of the list, as they’ll be bright enough to show that good behaviour gets the good stuff. Additional privilege is a huge thing, and it costs very little or nothing, but take it away and send them back to basics, and like a naughty puppy, they’ll begin to learn that if they want the bone, they’re going to have to do as you say.

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