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Smart Prisons: Managing and Rehabilitating Prisoners with Psychology, Empathy and Artificial Intelligence

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Release Date: 10/16/2020

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Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador, interviews Ms Pia Puolakka, Project Manager of the Smart Prison Project, under the Criminal Sanctions Agency, within Finland's Central Administration Unit.

Criminal Sanctions Agency:

Ira Pastor Comments:

In 2018, according to the World Prison Population List, which gives details of the number of prisoners held in 223 prison systems in independent countries and dependent territories around the globe, there were close to 11 million people are held in penal institutions, either as pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners or having been convicted and sentenced. About 50% of them were represented by prison populations in the U.S., China, Brazil, Russia and India. Interestingly, a few decades ago, going back to the 1960s, Finland had one of the highest rates of imprisonment in Europe, until researchers across the Nordic countries started investigating how much punishment helped in reducing crime, when they concluded it had minimal effect Over the following three decades, Finland remade its penal policy bit by bit, and by the end of this period of so called “de-carceration," Finland had one of the lowest rates of imprisonment on the continent, and they found that crime didn’t increase as a result. What Finland found out that did work was a gradual reintroduction of prisoners into normal life. About a third of Finnish inmates are housed in an "open prison" (defined as any jail in which the prisoners are trusted to complete their sentences with minimal supervision and perimeter security, are often not locked up in their prison cells, and may be permitted to take up employment while serving their sentence), and Finland’s Criminal Sanctions Agency says inmates who go through open prisons are less likely to be arrested again with a recidivism rate of only 20%. Pia Puolakka and the Smart Prison Project: Ms Pia Puolakka,is the Project Manager of the fascinating Smart Prison Project, under the Criminal Sanctions Agency, of the Central Administration Unit. The Criminal Sanctions Agency is responsible for the enforcement of sentences in Finland. It operates under the direction of the Ministry of Justice and implements the criminal policy defined by the Ministry. Ms Puolakka has been working for the Criminal Sanctions Agency since 2012 where she originally started as a prison psychologist, and since 2017 she has been working in the Central Administration, where she first worked as a senior specialist responsible for rehabilitative services including program work, family work, and psychological and spiritual services in prisons. In 2018 she was appointed as the project manager of the Smart Prison Projectand her current post includes developing digital services for rehabilitative purposes and leading the implementation of the smart prison system. By education, Ms Puolakka is a forensic psychologist and works also as a private psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, with degrees from University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi. She has also done further studies at Aalto University in Artificial Intelligence and digitalization for the purposes of designing the current Smart Prison Project.

On this episode we will hear from Ms. Puolakka about:

Her background; how she became involved in forensic psychology, psychotherapy, and into the criminal sanctions and rehabilitative services system. About the history of Finland penal system and their de-carceration model. About the Smart Prison Project and some of their educational programs in digitalization and artifical intelligence (AI). Expansion of the Smart Prison Project throughout Finland and to other countries.

Credits: Ira Pastor interview video, text, and audio. Follow Ira Pastor on Twitter:@IraSamuelPastor

If you liked this interview, be sure to check out ourinterview with Sridhar Solur about AI, the Internet of Things, and Smart Homes!

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