Rethinking Prisons Through Digital Technology

Monday, March 11, 2013

In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding had become such a problem in California prisons, the state system violated the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. 

That case highlighted the problem many states face when it comes to incarceration: severe overcrowding at a high cost. This weekend, a panel at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas examined how prisons can use digital technology to ameliorate these issues, and provide improved rehabilitation for incarcerated Americans.

Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC's New Tech City, explains how technology could revolutionize the prison system.


Manoush Zomorodi

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [4]

Dana Torrey from Rainier, OR

I completed a study for my dissertation in 2008 that looked at the role of civic identity in women parolees. It was amazing to me as someone who knew nothing about this population other than their vulnerability. What I found out surprised me and I think many others. Essentially, what I found is that when parolees are brought into society with good intentions, they are more likely to see themselves as contributing members of society. Today's story reminded me how necessary it is to think about how we punish the crime, not the person.

Mar. 11 2013 03:42 PM
Mike from NY

This episode made me think of a story called "A Child's Song." The story, originally told by Alan Cohen in his book "Wisdom of the Heart" is about African villagers who are given a song when they are born. The villagers know the songs of the children and they sing it to them when they get hurt or are feeling sad. When somebody commits an antisocial act, instead of isolating that person or excluding him/her from the village, they surround that person and sing their song to him/her. The correction for antisocial behavior is "is love and the remembrance of identity."

Maybe technology can help us with that, instead of prisons.

Here's the story:

Mar. 11 2013 02:37 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Can't we just send all prisoners to Princeton? Or maybe we call it Prisonton: A new kind of school for Hard Knocks.

For me the best part of the segment was that the panel was held at South by Southwest: where young people who are trying to get their music heard, listen to a panel of people talking about incarceration...
Not what I did when I was a kid. We had panel discussions of North By Northwest and Hitchcock when we went to music festivals in the seventies.

Mar. 11 2013 02:18 PM

Mighht I suggest that the best use of public funds and state power in the case of "Frank", the hypothetical low level marijuana offender referenced, would be to STOP ARRESTING PEOPLE FOR MARIJUANA!

Mar. 11 2013 11:51 AM

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