A person-centric approach to modernizing correctional facilities and probation

A person's hand resting on a mouse next to a keyboard.

A person-centric approach to modernizing correctional facilities and probation

There has been a paradigm shift towards a person-centric approach to rehabilitating and reintegrating individuals within correctional facilities and probation. This approach focuses on recognizing the intrinsic value of every individual involved in the criminal justice process. The foundation of this perspective lies in acknowledging a person’s dignity and potential to change1.

Increased digital and employability skills 

A critical aspect of the person-centric approach involves leveraging technology to provide accessible and quality education to justice-involved individuals. Digital learning platforms offer diverse courses, from basic literacy to advanced vocational training2. These initiatives cater to the educational requirements of justice-involved individuals and provide them with pertinent skills applicable in today’s employment landscape3. An example is the work some correctional facilities in Finland are undertaking by offering justice-involved individuals a chance to contribute to a growing industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI)4. In this setup, justice-involved individuals are responsible for categorizing data gathered from online sources. Subsequently, this labelled data is utilized to refine an algorithm for database management, offering them opportunities for employment readiness. Upon release, initiatives like this enhance digital skills and offer justice-involved individuals a path to successful employment within the largest growing job sector5.

In New Zealand, one correctional facility offers complete motor mechanical VR courses to justice-involved individuals, and early results have shown a significant boost in engagement. Large segments of justice-involved individuals struggle with basic literacy. Inviting technologies to revolutionize the traditional education model will create an immersive and user-friendly learning experience, further fostering the rehabilitation of justice-involved individuals and preparing them for release to a technologically advanced world.

Mental health and well-being

In a person-centric approach to mental health support for justice-involved individuals, technology serves as a transformative tool to address unique psychological challenges. Leveraging digital platforms, justice-involved individuals can access remote mental health consultations, ensuring timely and confidential support from healthcare professionals6. They can also access virtual therapy sessions facilitated through secure communication channels, creating a safe space for justice-involved individuals to explore and manage their emotions7. This integration of technology enhances accessibility to mental health resources and underscores the commitment to recognizing and addressing the needs of justice-involved individuals.

The same support can be offered to correctional officers and other personnel for a holistic person-centric approach. Online training can provide correctional staff insights into effective communication techniques, de-escalation strategies, and conflict-resolution methods. In England, services like Catch-22 work with all people in the justice sector, including correctional and probation officers, and provide CPD-certified social courses online. Enhancing interpersonal skills contributes to a healthier work environment. It can alleviate mental strain, leaving time for positive and respectful interactions between staff and justice-involved individuals, which sets the tone for a rehabilitative environment that fosters trust and cooperation.

Strengthened communications

Implementing person-centric communication platforms is crucial for modernizing correctional facilities8. These platforms can encourage meaningful connections between staff and justice-involved individuals by facilitating secure and accessible communication, ensuring both parties can engage in open and respectful dialogue. For staff, they can streamline administrative processes, enabling efficient information exchange and promoting a supportive work environment. Justice-involved individuals can benefit from improved connectivity with their support networks, fostering emotional well-being and reduced feelings of isolation.

The person-centric model used to modernize correctional facilities and probation recognizes each person’s intrinsic value and is essential for creating supportive environments and successful reintegration. The change towards this approach must include effective measures for mental well-being, communication, digital skill development, and education.

Want to learn more about how MHS supports the modernization of correctional facilities and probation? Get in touch with us.


1 Zivanai, E., & Mahlangu, G. (2022). Digital Prison Rehabilitation and successful re-entry into a digital society: A systematic literature review on the new reality on prison rehabilitationCogent Social Sciences8(1).

2 O’Brien, K., King, H., Phillips, J., Dalton, Kath, & Phoenix. (2021). “education as the practice of freedom?” – prison education and the pandemicEducational Review74(3), 685–703.

3 Bhuller, M., Dahl, G. B., Løken, K. V., & Mogstad, M. (2020). Incarceration, recidivism, and EmploymentJournal of Political Economy128(4), 1269–1324.

4 Chen, A. (2019, March 28). Inmates in Finland are training AI as part of prison labor. The Verge.

5 Indeed Editorial Team. (n.d.). 11 of the fastest-growing industries to break into. Indeed.

6 Domino, M. E., Gertner, A., Grabert, B., Cuddeback, G. S., Childers, T., & Morrissey, J. P. (2019). Do timely mental health services reduce re‐incarceration among prison releasees with severe mental illness? Health Services Research54(3), 592–602.

7 Using virtual reality to improve inmate interaction with families. (2023, February 21). Corrections1.

8 Palmer, E. J., Hatcher, R. M., Tonkin, M. J. (2020). Evaluation of digital technology in prisons. Ministry of Justice Analytical Series.

Share this post