The Digital Divide: Access to digital technology for people in custody

This Australian report canvasses the level of technology available to people in Australia. Western Australia's Inspector of Custodial Services views technology for inmates as an important component to eventual reintegration, as it provides enhanced opportunities for education and also improves people's ability to stay in touch with friends and family. However, their review concludes that it will take some time before there is substantial improvement to information communications technologies (ICT) in custody. Efforts made to date to modernize the corrections system have focused on access for corrections staff, not inmates.

In the Inspector's review, they learned that any improvements on the ICT front have been in relation to improving the prisoner telephone system and offender education services. The Inspector felt these were welcome improvements, but quite narrow in focus. And lawyers continue to be restricted in bringing in laptops to show their clients information, despite the fact that the majority of today's legal practice is electronic.

The report stresses that "clear goals need to be set, and risks and mitigation strategies need to be identified and documented." Also, there should be better communication between corrections and the legal profession on how best to manage communication and risks, as well as a focus on improving lawyer/ client communications via ICT.