PC-less prisoner's IT studies blocked

A prison inmate claims that authorities have taken his PC off him, preventing him from completing an IT course. The prisoner wrote to Computerworld after reading in the March 26 issue about inmates being offered IT courses.

A prison inmate claims that authorities have taken his PC off him, preventing him from completing an IT course.

The prisoner, who requested anonymity “for fear of reprisals from prison staff”, wrote to Computerworld after reading in the March 26 issue about inmates being offered IT courses.

He says he has worked with computers since 1981 but never found the time to obtain qualifications. Once imprisoned, he decided to do an information science diploma through Massey University. Prison management approved the course provided he meet all costs himself, so the inmate raised funds to pay for the course fees, textbooks and a computer. Bar the odd phone call, “the prison provided no assistance at all”, he says.

Halfway through his fourth year of study, the inmate says the prison withdrew access to his computer.

Department of Corrections national manager of inmate employment, David Bremner, has told Computerworld he is investigating the claims outlined in the letter.

“We have to establish whether the computer was withheld for fraud,” he says.

Bremner says some prisoners who are serving time for fraud try to run operations from inside. The inmate who contacted Computerworld does not say what he is inside for.

“If it is possible to get the person to complete his course, he will,” he says.

Bremner says once training and employment activities have been transferred from the prison to his department, it will be easier to investigate matters of this nature.

Last month, Bremner outlined an inmate IT training programme which he said was aimed at solving national skill shortages.

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