Maybe We Should Rethink This

Inmates at a medium-security Ohio prison secretly assembled two functioning computers, hid them in the ceiling, and connected them to the Marion Correctional Institution’s network. The hard drives were loaded with pornography, a Windows proxy server, VPN, VOIP and anti-virus software, the Tor browser, password hacking and e-mail spamming tools, and the open source packet analyzer Wireshark.

That’s according to a new report (PDF) from the Ohio Office of the Inspector General, which concluded that the geeky inmates obtained the parts from an onsite computer skills and electronics recycling program. The agency’s IT department, according to the report, initially was alerted to a connected device, using a contractor’s stolen credentials, that had “exceeded a daily Internet usage threshold.” The computers were operational for about four months. After a three-week search, they were discovered above a training room closet in an area off limits to unsupervised inmates. Ultimately, the authorities traced cable from a networking switch to find the devices that were assembled with discarded computers from an Ohio aircraft parts company and an Ohio school district.

First off, criminals are gonna crime, so I’m not all that surprised. Then there’s the part about the people you’re holding being more adept at some things than are the people who are keeping them locked up.

This leads me to my point: prisons are state-run Time Out centers for the misbehaving. And being Government run, we have a one-size-fits-all paradigm going on. I’m not saying that we should scrap the prison system, because there are any number of miscreants that need to be locked away from the rest of us. However, I think that some attention should be paid to the individual inmate and then he/she should be assigned some work or task that keeps them so busy that they don’t have the time to cook up a scheme like this.

Then again, this is Government I’m talking about, so it’ll never happen. Look to see a repeat of this story in some other prison.

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