Digitization instead of paperwork in Zurich prisons

Digitalization is also set to reach Zurich's prisons: Under the title "Smart Prisons Zurich (SMAZH)", the Directorate of Justice wants to procure a software platform that will improve internal processes. Inmates are also to receive secure end devices.

The canton of Zurich is modernizing its prison system: it is creating secure digital devices for inmates and a software platform for internal processes. (Symbolic image: Keystone/Ennio Leanza)

Secure digital services for prisoners are only available in isolated cases in the correctional and reintegration institutions (Juwe), and the corresponding systems are outdated, the justice department announced on Thursday.

If internal procedures and rules are communicated in prisons, appointments made, purchases made, meals coordinated or requests made in up to 15 languages, employees and inmates would still communicate almost exclusively on paper. "This is where modernization should take place."

The aim of "SMAZH" is to provide prison staff with a modern tool for looking after those who have been committed to prison, according to the minutes of the government council meeting. A key feature is, for example, a modern translation function, thanks to which "idle time due to linguistic misunderstandings" is to be avoided.

Inmates should also benefit from digitalization: "The better they are prepared in prison for a crime-free life in freedom, the better their reintegration will be." Digital education and support in preparing for release - for example with job applications - can be a valuable help. The aim is to close the digital gap between prisons and the outside world.

An initial basic version is to be introduced in a pilot institution this year. Individual services will then be rolled out in stages.

According to the council minutes, the "project implementation costs" will total just under CHF 15 million by 2033. The expenditure is deemed to be committed. The renewal of the existing solution is a prerequisite for being able to carry out the execution of justice in accordance with the law, according to the government council. (SDA)

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