“You Gotta Watch What You Say”: Surveillance of Communication with Incarcerated People

Kentrell Owens, Camille Cobb, Lorrie Faith Cranor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Surveillance of communication between incarcerated and non-incarcerated people has steadily increased, enabled partly by technological advancements. Third-party vendors control communication tools for most U.S. prisons and jails and ofer surveillance capabilities beyond what individual facilities could realistically implement. Frequent communication with family improves mental health and post-carceral outcomes for incarcerated people, but does discomfort about surveillance afect how their relatives communicate with them? To explore this and the understanding, attitudes, and reactions to surveillance, we conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with participants who have incarcerated relatives. Among other fndings, we learn that participants communicate despite privacy concerns that they felt helpless to address. We also observe inaccuracies in participants' beliefs about surveillance practices. We discuss implications of inaccurate understandings of surveillance, misaligned incentives between end-users and vendors, how our fndings enhance ongoing conversations about carceral justice, and recommendations for more privacy-sensitive communication tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Waves, Combining Strengths
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
DOIs
StatePublished - May 6 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Making Waves, Combining Strengths, CHI 2021 - Virtual, Online, Japan
Duration: May 8 2021May 13 2021

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Conference

Conference2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Making Waves, Combining Strengths, CHI 2021
Country/TerritoryJapan
CityVirtual, Online
Period5/8/215/13/21

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Ict
  • Prison
  • Privacy
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Software

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