Some Philly inmates will get limited Internet access

     An inmate rests his arms outside his cell as a corrections officer does a cell check. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo, file)

    An inmate rests his arms outside his cell as a corrections officer does a cell check. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo, file)

    Philadelphia is launching a program to fight the digital divide in an unlikely place.

    Starting this spring, city officials are planning to provide Internet access to inmates in a classroomlike setting at six jails. They can only log onto approved sites and will be under close supervision, however. 

    Prisons Commissioner Louis Giorla said many inmates are computer-illiterate and the program will help them obtain vital skills. He said prisoners will use the Internet to apply for jobs and, if all goes according to plan, access Web-based education services.

    “The thinking is this — that recidivism is reduced when the inmates take part in programming,” he said. “For instance, our inmates who obtain a GED, their recidivism is about 10 to 15 percent lower than our recidivism in general.”

    Giorla emphasizes that no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the initiative. 

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