05:36 GMT +317 October 2019
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    Belgian Prisoners Given Internet Access, Ability to Download Porn

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    For the first time ever, inmates at a prison in ... will be able to use the Internet, play games, make phone calls and download movies—even porn.

    Inmates at Beveren Prison in Antwerp are allowed use the Internet from their cells, as part of a controversial prison-reform program called PrisonCloud. They also would be able to download any types of movies including adult films.

    "People will be shocked but watching porn in prison, especially for young people who are incarcerated; it's a kind of an ersatz for something else,” said Prison Deputy Director Wim Adriaenssen. “It's also in our interest to keep them in humane conditions and that means providing for certain things."

    Each cell is equipped with a TV monitor, keyboard, mouse, headset and a special piece of hardware connected to a server. Each prisoner also has a USB stick, a username, and password. They can also use the system to communicate with prison staff and request court records.

    However, they are blocked from certain sites including Facebook.

    "Inmates can go to a website where they can see what jobs are offered and they can say to themselves, 'When I go out, I can work in construction or whatever,' Adriaenssen said.

    "If they have a legal problem, they can get help from PrisonCloud and they can see the books they want to read. It's a connection with the outside world. PrisonCloud has more positive sides than downsides."

    Some criminal justice experts argue that allowing prisoners Internet access poses too many risks. It’s also being attacked from a moral standpoint. For example, inmates imprisoned for sexually assaulting children can watch kids on TV.

    "This is going to sound direct but if an inmate is here for sexually abusing children," Adrianessen says, "we're not going to say that he can't watch children's programmes on the TV. If you say, 'You're a murderer so you can't watch telly anymore because it's too violent for you,' that's short-sighted.’”

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    PrisonCloud, Wim Adriaenssen, Belgium, Antwerp
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