The objective of the research was to evaluate digital technology in prisons to identify what the benefits are, as well as any disadvantages or unintended outcomes, of implementing the technology.
To do this, the specific research questions addressed whether digital technology:
- Increases access to and improves the communication of knowledge within prisons for both prisoners and staff.
- Improves prisoner confidence in using IT.
- Improves prisoner relationships with staff, other prisoners and those outside of the prison, and reduces prison violence.
- Increases staff job satisfaction and prisoner wellbeing.
- Reduces prison officer time spent completing key activities/tasks.
To answer the research questions, four methodologies were used in a sample of seven prisons with digital technology and four prisons without technology: (1) interviews and/or focus groups with staff and prisoners in the prisons with digital technology only; (2) a prisoner survey asking about use of telephones, account balance checking, ordering meals, ordering canteen and submitting applications in all prisons; (3) analysis of prison management data on prison violence and staff sickness rate over time for all prisons; and (4) a task time analysis to identify any time savings as a result of the implementation of technology in all prisons.