Good news for every inmate in New York State prisons: Each of you will soon be receiving your own tablet computer.
The free tablets for all 51,000 state prisoners are being sold to the public as an opportunity to educate prisoners for a law-abiding life when their sentence is completed. Although inmates will not have uncontrolled Internet access, prison system officials say the individual devices will help prisoners keep in touch with their families and become better prepared to reenter lawful society.
The program is part of an unusual new arrangement between the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and JPay, a firm that specializes in corrections and inmate-related services. Colorado and Georgia have also recently launched similar programs.
JPay will cover costs of the tablets and downloading educational content. Ther department will be downloading prison procedural files such as forms for prisoners to file grievances, report rapes and ultimately to possibly order personal items, music, videos, ebooks and other entertainment from the prison commissary. JPay would receive commissions on such purchases.
Tablets will also enable easier financial transactions for families depositing funds into an inmate’s account. JPay will install special kiosks inside the cellblocks for inmates to plug in their tablets at scheduled times and send emails under supervision to an approved list of recipients.
Acting corrections commissioner Anthony J. Annucci told a state legislative hearing: “As we continue to use technology to make our prisons safer, we will also leverage it to improve operations and interactions with family and friends by expanding services to our population.”