The Role of Information and Communications Technology in the Social Reintegration of Ex-Prisoners

The Role of Information and Communications Technology in the Social Reintegration of Ex-Prisoners

António Pedro Dores (University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5975-7.ch002

Abstract

The development of information and communications technology (ICT) over the past few decades has been positively surprising. Prison development has also been surprising, in a negative way. Hardline policy positions towards crime and the expansion in the consumption of ICT products are contemporaneous. They are co-occurrences. What makes sense of this apparent contradiction is the way societies experience distinct dispositions depending on the issues they have to face. The same people are able to be optimistic, in relation to the positive use of computers, and pessimistic as to the possibility of the criminal-penal system being able to combat crime. Is it possible for society to experience a disposition in which punitiveness regarding prisoners is replaced by the hope of reintegration for those convicted of crime? The answer is: there can be a shift of the dominant disposition, but for that we must reshape the whole of this society into another.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

(...) technical feasibility alone is not enough - political motivation is also essential. Patricia Fara (2009) Science: 421.

The development of information and communications technology (ICT) over the past few decades has been surprising. It has decidedly altered our daily lives. And, is always the case with such phenomena, there are enthusiasts, techno-optimists, and conservatives, techno-pessimists. The latter, concerned with the growth of unemployment caused by automation and with the ecological consequences of industrialization for the survival of the human species.

Prison development has also been surprising (Wacquant 2016). The exponential increase in the number of prisoners and the growth of international institutions for the prevention of torture were not part of the imagination of those who, in the 1970s, anticipated the year 2000 as symbolizing the realization of the Western civilizational ideal. Also surprising in light of what was that ideal is the complicit popular indifference in relation to torture which has taken hold since.

In the modern imagination, ICT represents a revival of a joyful sense of progress that has been lost in other fields, such as energy and the economy. On the other hand, the prison situation elicits a depressive apprehension, even among defenders of the criminal-penal system.

Societies experience distinct dispositions depending on the issues they have to face. The same people are able to be optimistic, in relation to the positive use of computers, and pessimistic as to the possibility of the criminal-penal system being able to combat crime, without it compromising their intellectual or moral coherence and constancy

Table 1.
Dispositions elicited by ICT and prisons
ICT
Prisons
Techno-optimismTechno-scepticism
Tough on crimeModernismReactionary
Hope of resocialisationThis book’s target audienceNew Wave

We do not need the results of a survey in order to know that, in recent decades, despite the evidence on climate change, modernism is the dominant disposition. Nor do we need special deductive powers to know that the target audience of this book seeks the answer to the question: is it possible for society to experience a disposition in which punitiveness regarding prisoners is replaced by the hope of reintegration for those convicted of crime?

The answer is: there can be a shift of the dominant disposition, but for that we must reshape the whole of this society into another.

By the 80's the digital revolution was impacting every sphere of social life, and ICT in particular was generating great enthusiasm. As symbol of late modernity, ICT became the focus of those energies that, in the 60's, had been applied to social revolution. During that same period, prisons turned from places where people were isolated from society for relatively short periods of time in order to be prepared for positive opportunities upon release, into warehouses where people are expected to do little other than what they can to survive longer and longer sentences in increasingly dehumanizing, overcrowded conditions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dominant Disposition: Is the pattern of incorporated way of receiving and reacting into and to the environment which used in priority in a determined epoch and society.

Recursivity: Human kind biological condition that imposes to people´s mind to live in the past and in the future, to alternate dark and high concerns and prospects about self and humanity, rather than to live without reflexive references.

Development: Is a quantitative way of evaluating and describing change in time.

Evolution: Is a qualitative way of evaluating and describing change in time.

ICT: Devices and use of devices based of microelectronic processing of information and communication.

Social Reintegration: The process of personal change when someone experience freedom from prison.

Prison: Penitentiary system establishment.

Punitiveness: Disposition that uses scapegoats as main strategy in order to really or symbolically solve problems.

Disposition: Is a pattern of incorporated way of receiving and reacting into and to the environment.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset