Transforming corrections: Global experts converge to discuss the future of digital corrections José Santos April 21, 2023

Transforming corrections: Global experts converge to discuss the future of digital corrections

The DIGICOR International Conference 2023, held in Lisbon, Portugal, on April 19th and 20th, marked a significant milestone in the discussion of innovation within the correctional field. Hosted by the Directorate-General for Reintegration and Prison Services (DGRSP) and IPS_Innovative Prison Systems, the event brought together leading experts to explore the transformative potential of digitalisation in prisons and probation systems.

The conference revolved around the theme of “Digitalisation in Corrections towards Recidivism Reduction.” It aimed to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange on the latest digital innovations and their application in the correctional environment. Discussions centred on the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, as well as the practical experiences of digitalisation in European prisons.

Keynote speakers, including Simon Bonk, former CIO of the Canadian Correctional Service, and Rhianon Williams from the Bremen Ministry of Justice, set the stage with their insights on the evolving landscape of digital corrections. They highlighted the critical role that innovative technologies play in enhancing inmate reintegration and reducing recidivism rates.

Practical implementation and collaborative efforts

The conference also provided a platform for various organisations to share their experiences with digital transformation. Representatives from the Swedish Correctional Service, the Belgian Prison Service, and the Finnish Custodial Agency discussed the successes and challenges they faced in integrating digital tools into their systems. These sessions underscored the importance of practical implementation and the benefits of learning from diverse international experiences.

Several key themes emerged from the discussions:

Digital Innovation in Prisons: Panels and sessions delved into the ways digital tools can revolutionise prison management and rehabilitation processes. Experts like Steven Van de Steene from SMART Corrections Consulting and Hakan Klarin from the Swedish Correctional Service shared discussions on the support that technology can provide to achieve effective prison operations.

Technology and Rehabilitation: The role of technology in aiding inmate rehabilitation was another focal point. Oliver Drews, CEO of TELIO Group, and James Levy from SOCRATES Software discussed how digital platforms can facilitate better outcomes for inmates through enhanced communication and educational opportunities.

Innovation in Practice: The practical application of digital services was highlighted by speakers like Patrick Fransen from the Belgium Prison Service and Fatih Gungor, Deputy Director General of the Turkish prison service. Their experiences illustrated the tangible benefits of digitalisation in correctional settings.

The DIGICOR International Conference 2023 concluded with reflections on the future of digital corrections. The closing session, led by Rui Abrunhosa Gonçalves, General Director of DGRSP, reinforced the commitment to ongoing innovation and collaboration in the field. The event underscored that through collective effort and the adoption of advanced technologies, correctional systems can significantly improve their efficiency and effectiveness, ultimately contributing to reduced recidivism and better reintegration outcomes.

As the conference wrapped up, participants left with a renewed sense of purpose and a wealth of knowledge to apply within their respective institutions. The insights and connections forged during this event will undoubtedly drive further advancements in the digitalisation of correctional systems worldwide.

The DIGICOR project is promoted by the Bremen Senate of Justice and Constitution (Germany) together with IPS Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), and partners from several european countries, namely the Federal Public Service of Justice (Belgium), the Kahramanmaraş Training Centre (General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses – Turkey), the Directorate-General of Reintegration and Prison Services (Portugal) and European Strategies Consulting (Romania). Morover, the project includes Telio (Germany) as associated technology partner.