Swedish inmates to receive digital tablets

Sweden's Prison and Probation Services are beginning a project in which suspected criminals will be given surf tablets to look at evidence against them.

Swedish inmates to receive digital tablets
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

During trial processes, the accused has the right to see the prosecutor's evidence against him or her. However, Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) has struggled in the past with precisely how this should be done.

"Big investigations are a logistic problem. They can include audio, pictures, video, and can be many thousands of pages long. We can't just put a tonne of paper in the cell," Fredrik Wilhelmsson, administrator at Kriminalvården, told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) daily. 

Now Kriminalvården will test new means of addressing the problem: Inmates will be given digital tablets on which the evidence is stored.

The scheme was revealed by Dagens Nyheter on Friday, and Kriminalvården will begin piloting the project in two weeks by giving 25 tablets to prisoners at jails in Sollentuna, Gothenburg, and Växjö.

The tablets in the project are surf tablets but have been reworked into essentially portable reading devices without access to the internet. As soon as the device is removed from the cell everything would be deleted, the operating system reinstalled, and new files added.

Implementing the concept at prisons throughout Sweden would cost about 3.1 million kronor ($454,088). The test project is a small step in Kriminalvården's vision to "computerize" the daily life of inmates, possibly as far as giving each inmate a computer in his or her cell.

"You can't get by in today's society without computers," Wilhelmsson said.

"We have people who have been sitting in jail for 20 to 25 years, since before the internet existed. We cannot release them without a base to stand on, but at the same time we can't give them free access to the internet."

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