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The Future of Incarceration


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Incarceration has historically been about punishment but recently the trend has shifted towards reform, schooling, and an entrepreneurial spirit. In this report, we look at trends in prison experiences, technology, as well as edtech and entrepreneurship in prisons. Prisons are increasingly enabling inmates to get a vocational training, degrees, and even healing. No longer are inmates looked upon as "less than human" but there is a curiosity about their minds and views that are pro-reform so that they integrate well into society on their release. We then forecast three scenarios on mass incarceration in 2040.

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The Future of Incarceration

  1. 1. The Future of Incarceration 30 September 2016 Bill Strain, Flickr Creative Commons
  2. 2. #IncarcerationTrends Henry Hagnäs, Flickr Creative Commons,
  3. 3. Top twenty countries with the highest prison population The US holds the largest amount of prisoners and a recent study finds that the total cost of incarceration is over $1 trillion. Source: International Center for Prison Studies, Retrieved on Sept 26, 2016, total?field_region_taxonomy_tid=All
  4. 4. In the US, there is a trend of rural areas sending the most people to jail For a crime such as selling drugs, a prisoner in an urban area, such as San Francisco, would receive a jail term of 0 to 3 years. However, for the same crime, a small county like Dearborn, this person would be imprisoned for 35 years. Source:
  5. 5. In another part of the world, prisons are closing down because there are not enough prisoners The Netherlands has an exceptionally low incarceration rate of 11,600 people, which is a rate of 69 incarcerations per 100,000 people. Whereas the US has a rate of 716 incarcerations per 100,000 people. “A number of factors underlie the Netherlands' ability to keep its crime rate so low, namely, relaxed drug laws, a focus on rehabilitation over punishment, and an electronic ankle monitoring system that allows people to re-enter the workforce.” Source: Andreas Matern Flickr Creative Commons, Source:
  6. 6. Historically the prison has been a place for confinement and punishment, but that is changing While prisons exist across the world where the inmates are housed in terrible conditions, historically, this has changed to allow the prison to evolve into a space that can be reforming and transformative. In Finland’s Kerava prison, “criminals are treated more like people than forces of evil.” Source:
  7. 7. Creating a more meaningful experience through prisons Architecture firms are coming together to design prisons that help inmates lead a more meaningful life. Prisoners at Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility have had a positive response to the design changes. These include using large windows, sound attenuation, campus-style housing, open booking areas, and integrated guard areas, where the guards are in close proximity to the prisoners. Source:
  8. 8. #PrisonTech Yasuhisa Yamazaki , Flickr Creative Commons
  9. 9. Choosing IoT solutions allow flexible sentencing over confinement Solutions that enable GPS monitoring and house arrest claim that “electronic monitoring reduces incarceration costs from $70-80/day to $4-9/day.” This can help track nonviolent offenders, without sentencing them to jail, while also keeping society safe. Source: technology-can-reduce-prison-incarceration-rates/ Amy Guth, Flickr Creative Commons,
  10. 10. Prisons are a major market for telemedicine Doctors can diagnose diseases in inmates without being present in the prison at all. This way, inmates also get access to specialist doctors. “The Medical University of South Carolina is using teleconferencing tools to enable its doctors at its Charleston hospital to examine inmates remotely—and from hundreds of miles away.” US Army CERDEC, Flickr Creative Commons,
  11. 11. Big data mapping is used for finding new approaches to crime Chicago’s million dollar blocks project uses data “mapping the cost of incarceration, block by block, highlighting the wasteful spending and suggesting other, more creative approaches to invest the money.” Source:
  12. 12. Use of drone trackers to stop drones from delivering drugs into prisons With drone smuggling on the rise, prisons are now a market for drone trackers, such as Dedrone. Dedrone’s tracker uses cameras and sensors to identify drones and send alerts and use a jammer to bring the drone down. US Army CERDEC, Flickr Creative Commons,
  13. 13. Prisoners are increasingly becoming a face on a screen Keeping in touch with loved ones in prison in the US is shown to be very expensive, and has put families in debt. “These fees are the linchpin in an elaborate racket between telecommunications providers, prisons and local governments.“ Now video visitations are on the rise to keep costs lower. Video visitations are also used for contact with lawyers to reduce the travel to the courtroom in NSW, Australia. Sources: visits-2016-5 technology-change-in-nsw-courts-20160914-grg2ow.html
  14. 14. Source:
  15. 15. #EdTech and #Entrepreneurship in Prisons Miriam Lueck Avery, Flickr Creative Commons
  16. 16. Can prison be all about reform and education, including earning a degree? The Reset Foundation are committed to ending the poverty-to-prison cycle by creating an education system in the non-profit prison they run. “Reset recently hired an experienced director of academics to develop its curriculum, which will be customized for each student-prisoner. The organization is also on the verge of announcing a partnership with an established charter school to help run its inaugural institution and provide accreditation to graduates.” Education is proven to be a very effective means for crime prevention. Source: Source:
  17. 17. Computers and Android tablets help prisoners learn skills and find jobs when they are released Curriculum can be delivered using wifi on computers or tablets that are tamper-proof, and prisoners are able to go through self-paced instruction much like the MOOCs offered by top universities. “A recent report by Rand Corp found that inmates who participate in correctional education programs have a 43% lower chance of recidivating than those who don’t. In addition, according to the research, their odds of finding a job after release is 13% higher.” Source: prep-life-outside-autodesk-degree/76112590/
  18. 18. A prison yard or startup office? Cathrine Hoke, founder of Defy Ventures, has imagined a prison that offers entrepreneurship programs to people with criminal backgrounds. For example, an illegitimate business operation can be translated to a valuable business proposition. “Hoke describes Defy Ventures as a combination of online learning and an accelerator program. When the students are still in prison, they are offered an average of 10 hours of online and in-person training each week.” Source: Source:
  19. 19. The best thing we can do is figure out ways to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and the tremendous untapped potential in our prisons, because if we don't, they're not going to learn any new skills that's going to help them, and they'll be right back. All they'll learn on the inside is new hustles. - Jeff Smith, Lessons in Business from Prisons Source:
  20. 20. Scenario in 2040: #holographicreformcenter #experiencepods #holographicco-learning #precrimepredictors L.E. Spry, Flickr Creative Commons
  21. 21. Part 1: Experience Pods in Holographic Reform Centers The year is 2040. A prisoner, Daniel, in San Francisco is sentenced to 1 year in a Holographic Reform Center (HRC) for drug trafficking, which is rampant in his neighborhood. He is taken to the state HRC where he will undergo a flexible reform program, which means he could shorten his HRC term depending on his progress. The reform center has several inmates who spend much of their day in holographic pods which have AI-customized reform programs, designed specifically for each prisoner’s blueprinted life and crime records. Before entering the pods, the prisoners go through an orientation program about how they can derive the most from the various pods, therapeutic, educational, health, transformational, etc.
  22. 22. Part 2: Holographic co-learning with inmates Daniel is allotted 50 hours a month in the family pod, where he can holographically meet his family and connect with them. His family also accesses his remote health checks, educational and transformational pods to get a download on Daniel’s progress. Daniel’s family is also keen on his progress to shorten his HRC term. In the future, the Holographic Reform Center promises to offer families and loved ones a collaborator program to co-learn along with inmates, such as Daniel, in order to enable collective reform.
  23. 23. Part 3: Pre-Crime Prediction for Transformation of Society In an era where precrime predictors intervene in anticipating criminals of the future, Daniel is aware that others in his neighborhood are also under the scanner. In the pods, he is able to access data of the precrime predictors and look at the life blueprints and previous records of future criminals, as he is on the path to his own recovery. Daniel is now receiving skills in the educational pods to train his mind to become compatible with precrime predictors, which will make him highly capable of meeting his dream - to run his own non-profit for community development in his poverty-stricken neighborhood upon his release. Along with precrime predictor data in his neighborhood, Daniel would be able to make his neighborhood more secure.
  24. 24. Thank you Content: • Kalika Sharma • Apala Lahiri Chavan @UXTrendspotting Interested in future trends and reports? Write in to us at