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Keep the conversation going - Closing Panel Discussion of the CTA 22nd Annual Technology Summit

It was a great honour for me to moderate the closing panel discussion at the end of the Annual Technology Summit, organised by the US Correctional Technology Association in St. Louis June 12-15. During the conversation with Christina Reagle (Indiana Department of Corrections), Russ Nichols (California Department of Technology), Hakan Klarin (Swedish Prison and Probation Service) and Simon Bonk (Telio Group), we talked about the current digital context that changes so rapid that many correctional jurisdictions are challenged to effectively react to, and leverage the opportunities that it presents. We heard from the panel members, who are leaders in this space, how they managed to anticipate this change and guide their organisation during this transformational period.

Technology is sometimes pulled into an organisation, driven by its ambition to use it for organisational improvements and to innovate. Correctional agencies – like many other governmental organisations – are more likely to be ‘pushed’ by the outside to adopt technologies. Working more efficient, safer and cheaper but also improving offender services & programmes and prepare them to return into a digital society, are motivation technology adoption for quite some time now. The recent pandemic and related disruption of economy and labour market has brought new urgencies: rapid implementations of mainly communication technologies such as videoconferencing and secure email have raised many discussions about the balance between virtual and physical communication.

The tight labour market has brought another dimension into this discussion about the value of technology: even if we would prefer to continue supporting more labour-intensive processes, we just cannot do this anymore because we cannot find the people to do it. This urges for more out of the box thinking, creativity to make our correctional profession more attractive, focus an the real value human work is bringing to a correctional environment and find ways to let technology do the work where the added value of people is limited.

This change is challenging and demands a conversation with all stakeholders. We learned from the panel members who they have done this and continue to manage change in their organisation. It was an inspiring conversation that we all agreed should be continued: the panel members emphasized the value of this type of events and the work done by organisations like CTA and more international ICPA, to share ideas, best practices and support open conversations with all stakeholders and learn from one another.

Thank you CTA!

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