Friday, January 20, 2006

The Next Generation of Prison Systems

The Netherlands has introduced the next generation in prisons. In their new detention center, inmates wear electronic wristbands to track their movement, cells are monitored with motion-recognition software, and there are microphones everywhere to analyze sounds and determine if a violent confrontation is occurring. Cameras are only found in public spaces, and not in bunks or bathrooms.

Inmates sleep in 6-man dormitory rooms. They do their own coking and washing, and create their own schedules using touch-screen monitors. There are limited options for activities, including drug education classes and exercise, and inmates are locked in their cells at night. The prison saves considerable money in prison guard salaries, and the cost per inmate per day is $125, versus $170 at other Dutch prisons.

The system seems intelligent. The US spends far too much on our prison system, and reform is long overdue. I would suspect that eventually inmates will find ways around the noise sensors, and violence would become a problem. But assuming we could work out the various kinks that may be inherent in this system, it is an option which I believe the US should evaluate.

Posted by Scottage at 12:02 AM / | |