18 FEB 2015 :: Prisons :: The internet and prisons

I have been advocating for prison reform since my sons entered the juvenile systems many years ago.  As time passed, I tried to understand why the various prison systems operated the way they do, and tried to find solutions to the obvious needs.  One solution I decided on is creating a government operated website for inmates to sell things they create while in prison... like art, writing, music, and whatever else is possible to create in the prison environment. 

I see it as an EBAY for inmates, with both the prison systems (government) and inmates (and their families) benefitting because of the effort. 

It has to be done by the government because of financial and security and cost issues that affect inmates. Inmates have restitution issues, fines to pay, families to support (child support goes away when people are in prison), living expenses while in prison, education goals, gifts to buy for family and friends, and all the normal needs of people trying to stay connected with those who love them and will be involved with them when they are released. 

Inmates will need help with creating the listings, taking the sales photos, and shipping the items to buyers.  All of these normal expenses of business bring a new look at how things are done, how much it costs to build a business, and what they can expect when they are released and have to do this on their own.  It might encourage prison re-entry organizations to help their clients build more than one kind of income.  Finding a job is a major hurdle for an inmate when they are released.  Inmates will have an established following and income source that can continue after release.  (This is much better than being put on the streets with nothing.)

Having the federal government set it up, with states and counties and cities joining the site like stores on selling websites, gets it all organized into one web address... which will help everyone.  Inmates can pay fees for the listings and payment processing just like other sellers do, and the government can benefit by those fees just like internet businesses do. And the association with this prison opportunity can last long after inmates leave prison, when they have to be moved, and extend to parole and probation offices.  Everyone wins... including the communities inmates return to.

If I had the funds, I would have been working in these directions already.  So far, all I can do is keep writing about it, looking for ways to implement it, and collect more information for later.  If you know anyone interested in this kind of change, print this blog post and send it to them. Email a copy to as many people in charge as you can.  Do whatever you can to share this concept with prisons of all sizes... and make sure the federal government hears about it... they are the ones that need to set it up for everyone else.

If you do any of that, THANK YOU !!!