Image of barbed wire outside a prison (Image from Flickr:

Future crime and punishment

AI is opening up the opportunity for innovative penalties in the criminal justice system. Swinburne University’s Technological Incarceration Project has imagined a ‘virtual prison’: Home detention where prisoners are fitted with an AI-powered ankle bracelet capable not only of detecting if the person is reoffending, but taking the next step into predicting what the wearer could get up to – and if necessary incapacitating them to prevent a future crime.

Profitable prisons

With prisoner numbers on the rise, prisons are one unfortunate growth industry with no winners – apart from the private companies who profit on the back of incarcerated labour. The US has the largest per capita prison population in the world – 2.3 million people, 7% of the total population. Australia has more than 40,000 people in prison, almost double the number from just 10 years ago. More than 20% of Australia’s prisoners are locked up inside privately-run institutions – where many of them also carry out menial work for very low rates of pay. In the US prisoners can work for some very large corporations – IBM, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T – on slave wages, according to the Centre for Research on Globalization.

And there’s the rub

Prisons are big business and with a burgeoning profit-driven model, there is limited political and social incentive to back technological solutions to crime and punishment.

An open and shut case

Time to shut the gate on the for-profit incarceration regime.

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