Cellphones and Internet Usage In Prisons?

Getting involved with the outside world is an easier than said task when most of your time is spent behind bars with very limited face-to-face communication; for prisoners, most of them who rely on plain email hard copies are getting more and more out of the outside world, but with technology and the internet advances, things are beginning to be that much simpler for prisoners to reconnect with reality.

As weird as it sounds, it’s the way the world works now as pen and paper just don’t seem to be able to cut it anymore. Gone are the days of meeting up in person as virtual meetings, instant messages, and the ability to follow, like, post or comment seems to be the majority of the way we interact now, and there aren’t signs of us slowing down anytime too.

In practice, prisoners aren’t allowed to have cell phones, but in reality, they’re in fact all over social media. Sources told VICE that prisoners are able to post photos to Instagram and to tweet directly from their cell blocks and this is because of them being able to use contraband and illegal cellphones.

In Malaysia, the National Prison Department took an approach which allowed those behind bars to keep in touch with love ones and respective lawyer. This started when prisons nationwide were barred from having any visitors, following the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Since 2008, selected prisoners who have undergone higher education were allowed to use the internet for their studies. Open University Malaysia (OUM) was among the first who had offered higher education to prisoners where inmates would be offered an online and flexible learning system.

The prison had earlier allocated computer and internet usage for said inmates from 8am to 5pm daily with monitoring by management to ensure that it was only used for academic and learning purposes, which comes mainly from the OUM digital library.

For those wanting to try smuggling an authorized handphone though, Jabatan Penjara has an entire unit that is dedicated to preventing items of such. Known as the UKP (Unit Kawalan dan Pecegahan) or the Prevention and Control Unit, spot checks, zone patrol are utilized to ensure nothing gets past their sight. These men are also easily identifiable by their maroon berets and camo uniform.

They were also rumored to have beaten up inmates who tried smuggling handphones in as it is essential for drug businesses in prison. Phones with cameras are also believed to be able to threaten the reputation of a prison.

When successfully smuggled in, prisoners have an ingenious way to charge them though, with the use of fluorescent lights. As there are very limited to no plug points to work with, prisoners connect the charger to electricity wires from fluorescent lights inside the cells. By connecting wires from cell lights or even the CCTV camera to charge phone batteries, touching a live wire could also result in fatal injuries or even death.

Because of this, Sungai Buloh Prison cells disabled their lights because prisoners kept using them to charge their phones!

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