Digitalisation in prison

Project Details


The ‘digital turn’ is profoundly affecting every segment of social life. Even the prison, the most secluded of all institutions, does not escape its influence. ICT are also entering the Belgian prisons. Recently, two newly built prisons launched ‘PrisonCloud’, a platform allowing digital communication with prisoners in their cell. Previously other prisons have implemented digital applications for prisoners such as e-learning or Skype. The main objective of this research is to assess how prisoners’ access to digital media and technology affects life in prison for prisoners and prison staff. Firstly, a historical-penological analysis of the debates on the introduction of digital facilities in Belgian prisons will be conducted, with particular attention for the tension between principles of normalisation versus less eligibility. This part of the research will also result in a description of digital media and technologies available to prisoners in Flemish prisons today, by situating them on a continuum of minimum to maximum access. Secondly, an in-depth multi-sided ethnographic study will be conducted in one PrisonCloud prison, investigating whether and how PrisonCloud affects the experiences of prisoners and prison staff, and how it intervenes in prisoner-staff relationships. Thirdly, a comparative study of the social climate in all prisons of the North Region of Belgium (Flanders) will be carried out to compare the social climate in prisons according to the availabi.
Effective start/end date1/01/1631/12/19


  • Prison

Flemish discipline codes

  • Digital and interaction design