Building bridges through the (prison)cloud

Jana Robberechts, Kristel Beyens

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


Digitalization has become normal in society, but not yet in prison. A new digital divide is created between those who have access to digital technologies, the so-called ‘digital haves’, and the ‘digital have nots’. Prisoners have therefore been described as ‘cavemen in an era of speed-of-light technology’ (Johnson 2005). Digital technologies are currently gradually introduced in prison in different forms, and private companies sell their devices as the solution for complex penitentiairy problems. PrisonCloud has recently been introduced in some Belgian prisons, aiming to bridge the digital divide. Its introduction was embedded in an official discourse of enhancing normalization of prison life (Beyens, 2015). PrisonCloud is a digital platform with different functions, that can be accessed from within the prisoners’ cell. This paper briefly introduces the different functions of PrisonCloud and then focuses on one aspect, namely its feature to communicate within prison (electronic report messages) and with the outside world (telephone). It will address the benefits and (unintended) consequences of digitalizing communication in prison and of providing in-cell activities. To conclude it will discuss the role of PrisonCloud in building/breaking bridges within and outside prison.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 15 Sep 2017
EventESC 2017 - Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Sep 201716 Sep 2017


ConferenceESC 2017
CountryUnited Kingdom

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