Esports Are Helping Prison Inmates With Rehabilitation and Reform

by in General | Aug, 4th 2020

This is a news story that I’d be a liar if I said I understood. After hundreds of hours, this author gets angry just looking at the Dota 2 loading screen! But prisons in the Philippines have looked to esports to help with prison reform and the game of choice? Dota 2! We can’t recall too many players who are relaxed before, during, or after a match of Dota, but if it’s working, we’re glad for it. We can absolutely see how Dota 2 and esports, in general, can help teach emotional stability.

Growth in Unusual Places

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Baguio City, Philippines are looking at esports for their prison reform. We certainly don’t want the inmates to have open access to the Internet though. They’re incarcerated for a reason! However, the point of prison should be reform, growth, and change instead of simply being thrown away and ignored. So, how can we use esports in prison? Simple: Dota 2! It doesn’t require an internet connection, so a prison LAN could be a thing.

In fact, the Philippines hosted a Dota LAN for prisoners. The prisoners also underwent at least some COVID-19 protection by wearing facemasks during the tournament. This is an amazing thing, but it’s not unique. Rikers Island in New York would reward their inmates with video games and pizza, as long as they undergo rehabilitation and keep their cells clean.

We’ve said it before, but esports can teach a lot of things to people. Prison shouldn’t be about simply throwing someone away, and doing nothing to better them as a person. That’s how recidivism stays so high. Recidivism is the tendency for criminals to re-offend. But if we teach them that there’s a better way and help improve their way of thinking, that number can go down.

So, the Philippines has a certainly interesting take on prison reform that involves esports. Frankly, it could go a long way if they continue this. We’d like to see some numbers on how these prisoners act while in prison after competing/participating, and after they leave. Do the recidivism numbers go down? We’d like to think so. Now, granted, Dota 2 definitely makes a lot of players salty, but it can help teach teamwork and help with emotional stability. What we need to do is teach prisoners/criminals that there are better ways of solving problems other than violence.

We do hope it’s working for them though. It’s always fascinating to see new techniques to improve society. If esports can lend a hand in improving prison reform, we’re all for it. Just don’t try League of Legends; that really makes people angry.


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