September 30, 2021

Normalisation, Openness and Responsibility: three core concepts that inspire our solution design

Some Nordic countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Belgium have clear aspirations for prisoners’ rehabilitation journeys. There are three principles that they follow which are: Normalisation, Openness and Responsibility. These principles would ultimately create “the prison of the future” where prisoners can uplift their skills and become, contributing members of society once released.

At Core Systems we realised that this concept could also apply to the products we are designing. Our solutions provide real-life experience and skills, give prisoners the opportunity to retain contact with the outside world and allow individuals to develop a sense of control of their own lives.

Let us understand better these concepts.

Normalisation means that conditions in prisons must correspond, to the extent possible, to needs outside. This principle is vital for all aspects of daily life in prisons. It is the basis of all the rules and the physical layout of Danish prisons. The normalisation principle implies that prisoners may have access to digital tools and be able to manage their own schedule, and they could also stay in contact with friends and family using modern digital communication tools.

The principle of openness is also fundamental. Openness in prison means that prisoners have the opportunity to retain contact with the outside world. In Denmark, prisoners have access to radio, television, and newspapers in their cells and communal areas in prison. With some limitations, they can also access the internet and connect with their family and friends via video call.

Lastly, in the Danish system, the prisoner must have an opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility, self-respect and self-confidence and become motivated to strive for a crime-free life actively. Nevertheless, one can use elements of ordinary life in prison, a core element of which is the notion of making choices. According to the Danish way of thinking, the prisoner should own their life as far as possible. Ownership should not lie entirely with the prison or staff. One could say that such a view helps to develop the life competence of the prisoner. The prisoner’s life competence can be obtained starting in two ways: personal acquisition of norms, values and experiences, and acquisition of knowledge and skills. Finally, many different types of research have shown that allowing prisoners to meliorate themselves would most likely break the cycle of crime.

These principles are not just very important for prisons in the Nordic Countries but have the potential to make the justice industry more effective worldwide. With our next-generation software solution, we want to support prisoners to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation, to use their time constructively learning new skills and to keep in contact with their important support network of family, friends and mentors. We are committed to developing technology that helps provide individuals with meaningful opportunities to change their thinking, behaviour and interactions; to create a new positive life story and to take responsibility for transforming into contributing members of society.