One Laptop Per Child designed its amazing XO laptop for children in the developing world. There, kids who might never know a school classroom can still gain an education through a cheap, durable, technological conduit to learning learning - a Constructionist methodology in a bright green computer.
But it's not only children that need an education. There is a whole other constituency that needs access to education and the skills that XO exposure can bring: prisoners. Erwin James, a former life sentence prisoner in the UK, and a Guardian columnist, says:
With ever increasing numbers of people in prison living with literacy and general educational deficiencies and overcrowding placing unprecedented demand on the ever limited resources of the prison system, never has there been a better time to provide prisoners with computers, in their cells, and to ensure fairness and equality, why not meet the cost?I completely agree with Erwin. Incarceration without retraining is just inviting released convicts to re-offend - they often have no other marketable skill or knowledge than the crime they were jailed for.
It might not be popular with "the public" to begin with, but we could do worse than start a new prison initiative - the OLPP - One Laptop Per Prisoner. It would be much more constructive use of taxpayers money and prisoners' time than in-cell television and could change the direction of future penal philosophy.
With an XO laptop, each prisoner could be engaged in processes that can advance their ability to re-assimilate into society, from the technical skills of the basic technology to the social aspects learned through mesh networking. Add in learning activities around education, and everything from basic literacy and math to life skills and employment opportunities improve.
And for better or worse, the Washington Post reports that 2.2 million were in prison or jail in 2005, a decent target market for OLPC's sales efforts.