Digital transformation… “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”

In conferences, training events and meetings, I am frequently asked: “how can innovation take place in prisons?” My answer, regardless of the geography and cultural background of the audience, is usually the same: “…To bring innovation inside, you have to open the prison doors!”

The response often evokes puzzlement and surprise and requires further explanation. Yes, you are right! We may agree that incremental innovations can be driven from within with limited or no intervention from outsiders, but it is when you open the doors of prisons and of the prison system – to judicial staff working in other government agencies, professionals working in NGOs, private sector specialists, researchers and technology developers – that innovation, sometimes transformational innovation, takes place.

When opening the system to people with different experiences, different sets of skills and perspectives, allowing them to share and discuss with practitioners, new ideas flourish, “business as usual” is questioned, new processes and forms of organisation are considered, and digitisation is added to the agenda.

But digital transformation should not be limited to connecting different systems or converting paper-based or physical processes into web-based forms and workflows – eventually an important step to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. It should mostly be about the opportunity to question the way the service and physical processes are being delivered and think about how, through the use of technology, these can be fully transformed, replaced or even abolished.

In this edition, we bring you the discussion about technology convergence and digital transformation, as well as interviews and cases that show how technology is supporting business delivery in different areas of knowledge and practice.

We also share the views and experience of the UN Assistant Secretary-General, Ministers and Deputy ministers of Justice, Director Generals, policy developers and high-level representatives of multilateral organisations, renowned experts, NGO representatives and philanthropists, about the way correctional systems are being transformed around the globe.

The implementation of programmes to reduce preventive arrest; the replacement of short sentences and the reinforcement of community measures; the introduction of the principle of normality in prisons; the reduction of overcrowding; radicalisation prevention among youth and in prisons; the prevention of juvenile delinquency in the community; the improvement of the wellbeing of correctional staff; the sharing of knowledge between different jurisdictions and the standardisation of proven interventions and practices, are, among other topics, covered in the current issue of JUSTICE TRENDS Magazine.

Digital transformation is about business and how technology can support it. It requires a long-term vision, a structured strategic reflection process, and a well-designed implementation approach focused on the short- and long-term results. As in many other areas, in Corrections, the “reinvention of the wheel” may be a tortuous and expensive journey. Cooperating and sharing, with jurisdictions with similar challenges, can be, therefore, a key component of success.

Enjoy reading!

Pedro das Neves

JUSTICE TRENDS Magazine Founder & Director
CEO of IPS_Innovative Prison Systems

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