Dear Editor,

I enjoyed the excellent article “Opening more than pages” in the Jan. 28, EagleHerald. I strongly advocate expanding on this idea by making offline computers available to prisoners that are well stocked with videos and other digital information that is both educational and rehabilitative.

On YouTube you can find many helpful videos on a wide range of subjects. There are videos on addiction, holistic lifestyle change, as well as videos by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. There are also many videos providing insightful ideas on how to overcome health, mental health and social problems.

The internet is full of free educational materials needed to prepare a person for college or a trade. For instance, you can learn computer programming, website design, Microsoft Office (or free alternatives like Apache OpenOffice), etc., from these materials. There are free academic textbooks in PDF on just about every subject. Many classic and non-classic books can be downloaded free off websites like Project Gutenberg by first turning them into PDF files.

I’ve prepared a sample list of materials I believe prisoners should have access to. It can be accessed from my Dropbox, at The link must be typed directly into your browser’s address bar since it’s not a document available to everyone on the internet.

At least 10 countries allow its prisoners access to computers. This is the new trend in corrections. For example, The Oshkosh Correctional Institution provides prisoners with instruction in Microsoft Office Applications and practical computer skills. And, Michigan is also planning on teaching women prisoners website design. The Center for Prison Education of Wesleyan University has long pointed out the wisdom of rehabilitating prisoners through education. They advocate for college-in-prison as a way of reducing recidivism and saving taxpayers money.

The American Library Association also advocates for the intellectual freedom of prisoners through high-quality access to library services including digital media. If Marinette & Oconto Counties Literacy Council, Spies Public Library, Stephenson Public Library, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) and the University of Wisconsin in Marinette got together, I’m sure they could hash out a reasonably good computer program for jail prisoners.


William Swenson