Exploring prisoners’ use of personal computers

Tilt, S., 2024. Exploring prisoners’ use of personal computers. DPsych, Nottingham Trent University.

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Computer use is now an integral part of many aspects of working and community living. Prisons are more recent adopters of computers, following initial caution relating to security and cost. A small but growing number of prisons across the world now provide personal computer access to prisoners, understanding is needed of the effect that this has on prisons and prisoners. This thesis aims to explore whether personal computers in prisons are achieving their objective of supporting prisoners’ rehabilitation, to inform future policy on prison design and investment in prison technology.

The literature base for personal computer use within prisons is limited, but use of technological innovations more broadly has been explored and thus may offer initial insights. The thesis therefore begins with a systematic review of a broader field, technology use within custodial settings, to explore findings that might be applied to personal computer use. The review identified 13 papers exploring technology use within prisons, and identified five findings that could be used to develop policy. Technology in prisons was related to prisoners’ wellbeing, supportive of managing time, changes in attitudes, and increased connection with others. Failures in technology could lead to frustration.

Empirical investigation of personal computers in prisons, using an explanatory sequential mixed methods design followed. An initial quantitative study, uniquely gathered using survey data collected via in-cell computers, gathered from 784 prisoners at two prisons in England and Wales, was conducted. Significant relationships were observed between frequency of computer use, and agency for desistance, and wellbeing. The mechanism by which this process occurred was partially explained by six mediating variables. A second study sought to give voice to prisoners living with personal computers, and to explore the experiential and emotional aspects of how a computer adjusts the prison cell environment. Data targeting this phenomenon was collected through interviews with 12 prisoners and was analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Five themes and 11 sub-themes were identified. Prisoners living with a personal computer experienced them as rehabilitative, to assist with managing time, and to maintain relationships.

This research provides first evidence of personal computers achieving their objective of supporting prisoner rehabilitation.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Tilt, S.
Gardner, S.Thesis supervisorBLS3GARDNSorcid.org/0000-0003-3443-7844
Oldfield, B.Thesis supervisorCCE3OLDFIBorcid.org/0000-0001-6229-5439
Bowe, M.Thesis supervisorPSY3BOWEMorcid.org/0000-0002-0491-1472
Date: March 2024
Rights: The copyright in this work is held by the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the author.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 26 Apr 2024 08:19
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2024 08:20
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/51348

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