[Skip to Content]
News Story

Between the Bars: Access to Communication for Inmates

Posted on 02/21/2013

Between the Bars

A large population of people in the United States - over 2 million nationally - lack access to digital resources (computers, the Internet, email, etc.) because they are incarcerated. A new project, called Between the Bars External link opens in new window or tab, provides an opportunity for many of those people to connect with the outside world on the Internet, while still allowing officials to monitor activity.

Between the Bars is a weblog platform which is supported by the Center for Civic Media External link opens in new window or tab at MIT. The weblog platform allows incarcerated individuals to hand write (or use a keyboard) a letter, journal, poem, story, etc., which is then reviewed and posted to the weblog by a designated person. The designated transcriber may use a computer, tablet, Smartphone, or in some cases, may scan in the material to be posted.

The written material can then be seen in the weblog, Between the Bars External link opens in new window or tab. Registered users-including family members and the general public-are able to read the posts, which include the writer's names, and they can also reply to those posts, which are periodically shared with the authors. This creates a two-way communication system which is simple, safe and effective.

Some of the goals of Between the Bars include providing:

  • A positive outlet for creativity for incarcerated individuals
  • A ¬†tool to assist in the maintenance of social safety nets
  • An opportunity to forge connections between people inside and outside of prison
  • A ¬†means to promote non-criminal identities and personal expression
  • A way to improve prisoners lives and reduce recidivism

Between the Bars relies on visitors to transcribe its bloggers' posts. You can help out by signing up External link opens in new window or tab and logging in External link opens in new window or tab, and starting to transcribe posts that interest you. Transcriptions make the blogs more accessible to search engines, translators and visitors.

The Center for Civic Media External link opens in new window or tab at MIT works hand in hand with diverse communities to collaboratively create, design, deploy, and assess civic media tools and practices.