Jump to content

Wikipedia in jails

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

Wikipedia in jails is a Wikimedia CH-driven project which aims at bringing offline content to prisoners.

Started in Switzerland, the project has since expanded to other countries with the help of volunteers and partner NGOs: because Kiwix is open-source and free to use and distribute, there is no reliable way of knowing how many programs currently use it besides those listed below. Feel free to expand!


See Germany below.


A small program is managed in Wallonia by Adeppi[1]. Around 100 prisoners in four locations are given access to Wikipedia, Wikisource and Wiktionary. Note: Wikipedia content is unrestricted.




eLiS (e-Learning in Strafvollzug) is providing educational resources from alphabetization to academic courses for around 90 prison facilities in Germany and Austria (the IBI is a not-for-profit company associated to the Berlin Technical University; it is sponsored by all German Länder but four, and Austria).[2] All prisons have their own school facilities and education is individually paid for in the same way as working while imprisoned. So besides getting a perspective for the time after imprisonment learning is also financially attractive to the imprisoned.

eLis is providing restricted internet access, e.g. access to offline Wikipedia, to around 1,000 inmates. It appears that Wikipedia is one of the most appreciated services, and is widely used for educational as well as recreational purposes. Activities are not logged, but from occasional checks it appears that topics like pop music, cars and geography are on top of the list. Many inmates come from abroad so showing each other one's home seems to be quite popular. Note: Wikipedia content is unrestricted.


There are several programs using Wikipedia, but the most advanced is that managed by the SAH-OSEO of Central Switzerland through their Bildung im Strafvollzug (BiSt) program[3]. They basically host Wikipedia (and other contents) on a central server which is then accessed from around 20 prisons in the German-speaking part of the country (+1 in Romandie). A little under 1,000 inmates currently benefit from the BiSt program. Discussions are planned in 2017 to offer additional, non-Wikimedia content via Kiwix. Note: Wikipedia content is unrestricted.

United States[edit]

The Oregon Youth Authority runs an educational program involving offline Wikipedia for Schools via World Possible, a local NGO.[4] Around 1,000 youths currently benefit from it.

The United States Department of Education has encouraged education for inmates over several years.[5] Jpay offers a tablet to juvenile inmates with access to Khan Academy videos.[6] A version of Wikipedia that does not update is available to inmates at the Wyoming Department of Corrections central server and is available to inmates on desktop computers within housing units, the facility libraries and education classrooms but is not available nationwide or on tablet computers.[7]