As we have written before, a trial in a British jail has shown that in-cell telephones reduce contraband cell phone smuggling and recidivism. Now a jail in New Zealand will be installing wall phones in each of the cells of a new prison along with an advanced custodial management system.
As this article states, the trial in Britain showed “significant improvements in prison security, including a marked reduction in attempts to smuggle mobile phones into the establishment. And prisoners could make phone calls in more decent conditions, and the frequency and quality of contact with their families increased”
For existing jails and prisons where the installation of a hard wired wall phone is impractical due to cost and infrastructure limitations, a secure prison cell phone solution such as meshDETECT will achieve the same results with no capital outlays.
Life on the inside looks comfortable at Mount Eden Corrections Facility, with each cell having a concrete bed, a reading light, shower and toilet and one day, prisoners may even have their own phones.
“If they have phone in their own cells, they can make the calls at a time which suits them which is great,” says Victoria University criminology professor John Pratt.
Shared payphones are the only sanctioned form of communication at present, and fights over access to them are common.
Mount Eden is operated by Serco, which has installed landlines in cells in the UK with positive results.
“Significant improvements in prison security, including a marked reduction in attempts to smuggle mobile phones into the establishment”
“And prisoners could make phone calls in more decent conditions, and the frequency and quality of contact with their families increased,” the company says in a statement.
Serco’s Mount Eden boss agreed to talk to 3 News about how such a scheme would be rolled out here, until Serco Australia stepped in and cancelled the interview, saying there are no immediate plans for phones in cells here.
Serco’s New Zealand boss is the Government, and Corrections Minister Judith Collins isn’t ruling it out.
“Obviously I’d want any, any phone lines to be scrupulously monitored, that’s really important, public safety is to come first and I’d expect to see some very compelling evidence that it assisted rehabilitation before I even think about it,” she says.
Rita Croskery’s son Michael was beaten to death 10 years ago. She says phones in cells would make prison life even more attractive.
“Prisoners are probably better off in prison than have been as people outside. They’ve got all the home comforts, nice warm beds, three meals a day,” she says.
Criminologist John Pratt disagrees.
“The more you can humanise the prisons, the better that is for rehabilitation of the prisoners, which is surely what prison should be all about,” says the professor.
An issue which will polarise public opinion and could sway any decision.
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