March 17, 2023

Empowering Women in Prison: The Role of Normalisation-Based Technology

5-min read

Prison can be a challenging experience for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult for women. Women in prison face numerous challenges unique to their circumstances, including being the sole caregiver for their family, limited access to suitable skills training and work opportunities, and trauma-based mental health support. However, technology based on the principle of normalisation can play a crucial role in empowerment and will help them overcome challenges.

What is Normalisation?

Normalisation is a principle that emphasises the importance of providing individuals with the same opportunities and experiences as those not living in institutional settings. This principle can be applied in various situations, including healthcare, education, and social services. In the context of prisons, normalisation means providing prisoners with access to the same types of resources and services that they would have access to if they were living in the community.

What is Normalisation-Based Technology?

Normalisation-based technology is a term used to describe technologies designed to help prisoners live more normal and less institutionalised lives. Solutions have been developed around the principle of normalisation to make life inside a prison as close as possible to the outside world. This can include various tools and services, such as educational software, telemedicine systems, and communication platforms. Normalisation-based technology aims to help prisoners maintain healthy relationships, develop new skills, and prepare for a successful re-entry into society.

Technology can be a powerful tool for implementing the principle of normalisation in prisons. Tablet computers, for example, can provide women in prison with access to educational resources, job training programs, and mental health services. These devices can be pre-loaded with educational materials, such as eBooks, instructional videos, and job training programs, such as resume building and interview skills. Traditional job training programs and work opportunities are often geared towards men, making it difficult for women to develop the necessary skills for successful re-entry into society.

Image of woman typing of a computer at a desk.

However, normalisation-based technology can provide access to online learning platforms, which offer flexible training and skill-building opportunities that cater to the specific needs of women in prison. They also experience different mental health challenges compared to men, including depression, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders. Normalisation-based technology, such as online counselling and therapy services, can provide access to mental health services and support, allowing women to receive the assistance they need to cope with their mental health challenges.

Educational Software

One of the most critical ways that normalisation-based technology can empower women in prison is by providing them with educational software. Many women in prison have limited access to traditional educational opportunities, such as attending college or vocational training programs. However, with the help of educational software, they can learn new skills and prepare for a successful career after their release. Women in prison also tend to have a higher education and literacy level than men and will be better equipped for success through self-guided study. Many different types are available to prisoners, including language learning programs, vocational training, and college-level courses. Using these programs, women in prison can gain new skills and knowledge that can help them find employment once released.

Communication Platforms

Many women in prison are isolated from their families and communities, making it challenging to maintain healthy relationships. As usually the primary caregivers, it is essential for them to stay connected with their children and loved ones. However, with the help of communication platforms, they can stay connected and receive emotional support. Many different types are available to prisoners, including email, video chat, and phone services. By using these platforms, women in prison can stay in touch with their support network, which can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Video calling technology can also allow women to communicate with their children and other family members who cannot visit them in person. This can be especially important for maintaining social ties and support systems.

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In conclusion, normalisation-based technology can potentially revolutionise how we empower and support women in prison. It is essential to continue developing and refining these technologies to ensure they are tailored to their needs. Women can develop new skills, maintain physical and mental health, and stay connected with their families and communities using these tools and services. Normalisation-based technology can help women in prison keep social ties and support systems critical to their success by facilitating connections with their families and friends.  Ultimately, this can help to prepare them for a successful re-entry into society and reduce the likelihood of recidivism.

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