Pyhäselkä and Kylmäkoski prisons in Finland are set to become "smart" prisons, following the implementation of Finland's first smart prison at Hämeenlinna Women's Prison in 2021. The aim is to make all closed prisons in Finland "smart" prisons. The smart prison project began in 2018, with significant changes made to digital services for criminal justice clients. These included personal cell terminals and the Doris system at Hämeenlinna Women's Prison.
Each cell in a smart prison has a personal cell terminal that allows the prisoner to access digital services and communicate electronically. The terminals have limited internet access that can be used to browse multiple websites via the shared portal page for criminal justice clients. Video calls and messaging are available both within and outside the prison, although the internet access is restricted.
In April 2023, feedback from staff and prisoners indicated that the smart prison system was well-received and digital services were actively used daily. However, digital services cannot replace face-to-face interactions and close collaboration, but rather complement and expand the services of the Criminal Sanctions Agency and support prisoners in rehabilitation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of digital technologies in prisoner's meetings with authorities and stakeholders. Personal cell terminals enable distance learning, flexible communication with loved ones, and independent handling of internal prison affairs, such as Vankiterveydenhuollon Poliklinikan. The smart prison has many social and economic benefits, such as reducing the time and cost associated with transporting and attending meetings, as well as improving prison security by allowing resources previously used for monitoring to be allocated elsewhere.
The smart prison project has also led to an increase in the number and accessibility of services available to prisoners, as well as improvements in maintaining relationships with loved ones, which are essential for supporting reintegration into society. The use of digital services by prisoners also facilitates their integration into society and enables more extensive and self-directed rehabilitation.
The Finnish smart prison model has garnered widespread international interest. The Pyhäselkä prison expanded its smart prison in December 2022, and the Kylmäkoski prison is set to become a smart prison in September 2023. Overall, the smart prison project has shown how digital technologies can be used to improve the quality of life and rehabilitation outcomes for prisoners, as well as reduce costs and improve security in prisons.