Zorin Grid in the Criminal Justice System

I’m thinking about whether Zorin Grid could be used in Her Majesty Prison Service as safe, controlled, inexpensive workstations and terminals for people who are in prison. This would be part of a rehabilitation programme.

Some of you may recall that an economist called Vicky Pryce, who was the then wife of Chris Huhne, a very senior member of the UK Liberal Party, was imprisoned in 2013

After she came out of prison she wrote a very good book called Prisonomics: Behind Bars in Britain’s Failing Prisons , analyzes the economic and human costs of imprisoning women.

I read her book Prisonomics some time ago and it got me thinking. Since then I have been coming up with some ideas about improving the conditions in prisons which I believe could be implemented without too much difficulty. I know a little about this topic because for over twenty years I practiced at the Bar and did my share of criminal work as well as work as a computer barrister and technologist.

My proposals involve the use of voice over IP telephony, video conferencing and a possible route out of criminality and anti-social behaviour which would be humane, should lead to good long term prospects and personal development. I also believe that it would save day-to-day costs within prisons while retaining their role as an appropriate punishment but one which is properly tempered by rehabilitation and opportunities for redemption . My proposals need to be costed but I believe that they could save costs and it is possible that they could generate new income streams for the offenders, their victims and society at large.

Now what I was wondering is whether Zorin Grid could provide a secure and inexpensive way of achieving this ideal.

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Thank you very much for your proposal; it’s greatly appreciated and was very insightful! I think your ideas make a lot of sense and could provide a positive impact.

We’re currently working on both Zorin Grid and Zorin OS 16, both of which will introduce new things that should make this vision more achievable.

After the initial release of Zorin OS 16 (we’re aiming for an early 2021 launch), we’re planning to create a version of Zorin OS for the Raspberry Pi mini-computer. It has an ARM-based processor (most commonly used in smartphones) that allows it to be more energy-efficient and – more importantly in this case – far more affordable, from as little as £34 per computer. I have a more extensive post about this in a thread on the old forum, which you can read here: https://zoringroup.com/forum/12/15961/#p73105
The Raspberry Pi running Zorin OS and managed by Zorin Grid could strike a good balance of providing a computing experience that helps rehabilitate inmates at a super-low upfront cost.

Some of the software we include in the Zorin OS Education edition may also help with skills development to make inmates more prepared for life after prison. For example:

  • Improve career opportunities with software like the LibreOffice suite for office work, and the other apps included for learning coding and engineering.
  • As it’s likely that Internet access would be limited (if not completely absent) in prison, it could be possible to set up Kolibri on one computer to provide a pre-defined educational curriculum to inmates through their own computers.
  • The built-in Veyon computer monitoring tool could also let staff see exactly what inmates are doing on their computers in real-time.

Zorin Grid could help prison staff manage and control all of the computers centrally & remotely. We’re designing Zorin Grid to be as easy to use as possible, without any prior IT or Linux experience needed. That way it should be simple for any member of staff to install apps, change settings, or lockdown parts of the system for greater security across all of the computers. This level of control could make it safer and less risky to deploy computers to inmates.

P.S. In the case of video conferencing, one recommendation could be to look at Jitsi Meet. It’s free, runs in a web browser (so it’s platform-agnostic) and – in my experience over the lockdown – works a lot more reliably than Zoom or Skype. Since its Open Source, it’s possible to modify how it works (if necessary for HMP’s needs) and set up a server to run it from instead of relying on a cloud provider.
We’re not involved with Jitsi ourselves, but I think it’s a fantastic tool that could be of help to HMP.

Hi Azorin,

We need to chat about this. There is a real opportunity here. I have a personal website which I maintain (just about) for my old students at the LSE and anyone who is interested in law and legal matters. There is a webform on this site which allows anyone to contact me. Please fill in the webform so that we can open discussions

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Thanks for your reply, I have now sent a message through your contact form.

It sounds like an exciting opportunity with the chance to make a positive impact. Looking forward to discussing it with you!

Hi Artyon,

I got your message through the contact form and have sent you a reply by email - you should have received it late yesterday afternoon.

regards

Alistair