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Internet Access for Prisoners

Internet Access for Prisoners

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Internet Access for Prisoners

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  1. Internet Access for Prisoners annotated webliography compiled by Melisa Gilbert Correctional Education Association (CEA) 2008 International Conference Denver, Colorado USA *use the  key or Page Dn to go forward.

  2. Click on the speaker to hear an introduction Hello, and welcome to my annotated webliography. On this CD, you will find a collection of resources that can help you explore the topic of internet access for prisoners. It was also created as a way to help correctional educators and librarians prepare for a future that has already arrived for the world outside of prison. The future I’m talking about is the formation of a society that has become dependent on the internet as a way to survive and succeed in life. People all over the world now use the internet for a wide variety of tasks and activities. The internet is quickly becoming as much a part of daily life as paying bills, buying groceries, and watching videos with your friends and family. In fact, people now use the internet to do all those things, and much, much more. Access to online resources - and the skills to use them effectively - are an important part of surviving in an information society, as well as achieving personal goals and dreams. *use the  key or Page Dn to go forward.

  3. Click on the speaker to continue hearingthe introduction I would like to say two things before I explain how the webliography is organized. One - you have a valuable perspective that needs to be considered when policies are written for the prisons where you work. You probably already realize that you have a great impact on the lives of many people, every day. However, you may often feel like an insignificant cog in the great wheel of government or administration. But I believe you can improve your chances of being heard and influencing prison policies if you continue to educate yourself and foster relationships with people in your organization. The second point I want to make is that educators and librarians have a unique opportunity to provide people with some structure and training on how to use internet resources effectively. We can teach people how to do more with the internet and how to use it as a tool for succeeding in the free world, rather than continuing in a cycle of crime and imprisonment. There are plenty of people in the free world who never receive this type of training and never truly master these skills, and this is something we can do to give ex-felons a chance at making it in the world. *use the  key or Page Dn to go forward.

  4. Click on the speaker to hear the remainderof the introduction And now I would like to tell you a few things about how this webliography works. You can continue to use the downward arrow or Page Down keys on your keyboard to go forward through the slides. If you want to go back, just use the upward arrow or the Page Up key. As you go through the pages, you will see a series of seven questions. After each question, a short list of references appears. Each reference includes the name, year of publication, and a live link to the web page that corresponds. The links are in blue so you will know where to click. There are also brief descriptions of why each source has been included. If you have any problems with the CD, or if there is a resource you think I need to add, please feel free to contact me. I can also set you up with more copies of the webliography if you need them. My contact info appears on the last slide of the presentation. I hope you enjoy looking at some of these great web sites. This concludes the introductory portion of the webliography. *use the  key or Page Dn to go forward.

  5. Table of Contents(you can go directly to any single question by clicking on it) • Is the internet a necessary tool for survival and success in today’s world? • Why should incarcerated people have access to online resources? • Why, and how, should inmates’ access to online resources be limited? • What kind of online information and training would be most helpful to incarcerated people? • What is already being done to address this issue in the United States? • What is already being done to address this issue around the world? • How can we provide access to online resources without compromising safety and security?

  6. Question One Is the internet a necessary tool for success in today’s world? “the Internet has thoroughly penetrated the American psyche, culture, and economy” (quote from p. 97 of The Digital Future Report: Surveying the Digital Future, Year Four)

  7. Pew Internet and American Life Project (2008) Go here to view Reports, Presentations, and Data about how people in American society are use the internet. “The project is nonpartisan and takes no position on policy issues” (PIALP Mission Statement). The source is useful because it can help everyone understand the extent to which our use of the internet is becoming integrated into everyday life. Be sure to look at this chart that ranks most popular online activities: Corporation for Public Broadcasting (2002). Connected to the future. The CPB studied internet use among children and found that significant growth spurts occurred between 2000 and 2002. Read this report to learn more about the differences in internet use across ethnicities, income levels, and point of access. There is also good information about the digital divide as well as interesting statistics about children spending more time on the internet than watching television. How common is internet use?

  8. University of Southern California Annenberg School. The Center for the Digital Future (2008). Internet project. There is a wealth of information in the 2008 report and past reports produced from the ongoing Internet Project conducted by this center. The study is longitudinal and global in its coverage. The 2008 report focuses especially on the development of social activity and networking online. (Please note, at this time, only highlights are available free online; the full report is available for purchase.) The 2004 report has an informative section about internet and email in the workplace. U.S. Census Bureau. Computer Use and Ownership, Current Population Survey Reports (2003). How common is internet use?

  9. Question Two Why should incarcerated people have access to online resources?

  10. Lehmann, V. & Locke, J. (2005). Guidelines for library services to prisoners. 3rd ed. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions IFLA Professional Reports, No. 92 Read this article to learn about international guidelines for prison library services and to inform local policy making. U.S. Department of Commerce. Economics and Statistics Administration. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (2000). Falling through the net: toward digital inclusion. Read this report to learn more about patterns in computer and internet use by households, individuals, and people with disabilities. The authors suggest that it is critical for every citizen to master computer and internet skills, that such mastery supports the economic growth of the country, and that every citizen should be guaranteed inclusion in the “digital economy.” Why should prisoners have access?

  11. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (1994). UNESCO Public Library Manifesto. (This document is also available in other languages) Read about the types of services and materials that public libraries should provide, (including development of information and computer literacy skills) and note that “people in prison” are included in the list of user groups who should still be served even though they are unable to access the public library in the usual way. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (2002). IFLA Internet Manifesto. (This document is also available in other languages) Read more about the role of libraries and librarians in providing free and unlimited access to the internet through library service to every individual in a nation’s population, as well as removing barriers to such access. Shirley, Glennor (2004). Prison libraries and the internet. Behind the walls @ your library: Library Service in Prisons, Column #2 Why should prisoners have access?

  12. Question Three Why, and how, should inmates’ access to online resources be limited?

  13. Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section United States Department of Justice Go here to read all the latest news and information about computer and internet-related crime in the U.S. and around the world. United States Department of Justice (1997). Report on the availability of bombmaking information. Most people already realize that a variety of instructional manuals and information about criminal activities is available on the internet. This report is just one source for some specific examples. The report is also representative of the government’s perspective on the availability of such materials in terms of free speech vs. national security. Turner v. Safley, 482 U. S. 78 (1987) Text and explanation of case can be located easily with a search engine. This citation refers to a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court case. The decision set a legal precedent for future decisions about prisoners’ rights. In particular, “when a prison regulation impinges on inmates’ constitutional rights, the regulation is valid if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests” (§ II). The determination of “reasonableness” is based on four factors. How should access be limited?

  14. Question Four What kind of online information and training would be most helpful to incarcerated people?

  15. Campbell, Diane (2005/6). The Context of the Information Behavior of Prison Inmates. Progressive Librarian, no. 26 Read this article to learn more about why offenders look for information that is relevant to their immediate social situation, rather than using the library to prepare for reintegration into society. Chatman, Elfreda (1999). A Theory of Life in the Round. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50, p. 207. sorry, no public link found Chatman studied the social factors of life in a women’s prison and offers conclusions about how prison culture influences prisoners’ views of information. She describes a number of observations that could help a correctional librarian meet the needs of her patrons, especially if the librarian is willing to accept that she serves the patrons as an outsider. The librarian must also accept that in order for something to be true, in prison, it must be validated by the social norms of the small world, rather than the outside world. The reliability of a source may not be as important as the potential for use. “A life in the round [i.e., in prison] is one lived within an acceptable degree of approximation and imprecision. It is a life lived with a high tolerance for ambiguity” (Chatman p.213). What kind of information is useful?

  16. MORE IDEAS... training for email, instant message training for online bill pay and personal finance tools keyboarding tutorials training for internet and computer safety, protection of identity consumer health databases or publications AA, NA & CA meeting locators work force center websites classified ads – housing and employment (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) podcasts or audio-visual streaming on variety of topics digitized libraries, online art/science/history museums, etc computerized driver’s test online parenting class transportation: schedules, costs, general information newspapers and news sites online dictionary (such as What kind of information is useful?

  17. Question Five What is already being done to address this issue in the United States?

  18. Maryland Department of Corrections library system produced a CD-Rom entitled “Discovering the Internet @ your library,” which provides offline instruction about how to use the internet. For more information about the CD-Rom, email Glennor Shirley: Wisconsin Department of Corrections has set up an “inmate-only” network connecting 1200 computers at 29 different facilities. Offenders can access a shared online catalog for all the libraries in the WDOC system, and they can also view selected web sites with information considered vital for parole planning and reintegration. The network is made secure with firewall and staff supervision. Colorado Correctional Libraries administrative team has produced the first in a series of DVDs about modern services provided in public libraries in order to raise the awareness of ex-felons seeking support for re-entry in the community. The DVD presents information about using the internet specifically for reintegration-related activities. For more information about the DVD, contact Diana Reese, Institutional Libraries Coordinator: What has been done? (USA)

  19. Question Six What is already being done to address this issue around the world?

  20. Council of Europe Go here to view the European Prison Rules ( The rules address the topics of communication with the outside world, education, and library services but do not specifically allow or prohibit internet access. Vocational education and training for adult prisoners and offenders in Australia: Research findings (2007). Edited by Susan Dawe. The book summarizes research on vocational education training in Australia’s prison system. According to the book, “structured access to the internet” is allowed for prisoners enrolled through distance education in tertiary studies (p. 131). This program is supported in part by funding called User Choice, provided by the Dept. of Education. The book is available online for no charge as both PDF and Word formats. A print version of the book is also available for purchase ($59.95) Bloggers desde prisión The entries on this blog are written (in spanish) by inmates at the Juvenile Detention Facility in Barcelona. This project was made possible by Lola Burgos, the librarian at the Penitentiary Centre, and Aída García, and Jorge Franganillo, faculty of Library and Information Science at the University of Barcelona. What has been done? (World)

  21. Question Seven How can we provide access to online resources without compromising safety and security?

  22. Here are just a few samples of corporate websites that advertise various types of software to limit or monitor internet use. There are many more! (2007). This is a corporate website that advertises software and also publishes internet safety tips. Their product “Safe Eyes” has received good ratings by PC Magazine in the category for parental control software. Wavecrest Computing – Intelligent Web-use Management tools (2008) GearBox Computers (2007) Advanced Technologies Group, Inc. (2007) offers an email program that is designed for correctional facilities PageNest (free) and PageNestPro (purchase) (2008) Previously called WebStripper, this is software that allows user to download web content to local storage Safety & Filtering Products

  23. Did it help? This webliography was designed to help people who work in correctional institutions to: • gather information from reputable sources • form an opinion about the topic • use compelling evidence to support their opinions • be more persuasive when they present their ideas • design and implement new and intelligent policies for education and information services to prisoners in the age of technology

  24. Contact Me Melisa Gilbert • email: • mail: Washington State Library Institutional Library Services, Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, PO Box 769, Connell, WA  99326 • more copies of the webliography • comments, questions, suggested resources • tell me about projects you are working on