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Technology in Corrections - Tablets

"You might ask your friends this hypothetical question on social media or while relaxing with a beer: How long could you last if your only contact with the outside world was by video call?"

"America has the highest prison rates of any nation in the world, but we do a poor job at providing opportunities for prisoners to turn their lives around using the time they spend in jail. A dwindling number of inmates have access to education programs today. In the last two decades, spending on corrections has quadrupled in the U.S. But spending on education within prisons continues to shrink."

"The concept is simple: Seed inmates with feature-limited Galaxy Tab S2s. The inmates typically have access to only educational and vocational apps, through in some cases they can use the tablets to read ebooks, prepare for upcoming court cases, or communicate with family members. “We provide technology solutions that provide better outcomes for the incarcerated,” Grewe said at the beginning of our interview. “Prisons don’t need to be dangerous places. They can be constructive.”"

"Over the past several years Edovo tablets have been adopted in jails in Alabama, California and Pennsylvania, as well as facilities operated by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. In those jurisdictions, the tablets are made available to prisoners at a cost of about $2 per day – the tablets are typically purchased using funds from inmate welfare accounts, and provided to prisoners at no cost. Of course, the money in inmate welfare accounts usually comes from prisoners and their families through commissary purchases, visitation vending machine revenue and phone commission kickbacks."

The debate over prison reform seems sharply divided between those who want to see stricter sentencing and harsher punishment and those who want to move toward a more rehabilitative system. Despite very real differences between these two philosophies, there may be one issue that both sides can agree on – inmate tablets.

Inmate tablets are the most effective inmate management tool I have seen in my 25 years as a corrections professional. Although some would argue that they are a luxury offering that criminals don't deserve, the results we've seen at my facility in Pima County, Ariz, speak for themselves. Since implementing the tablet program, our suicide attempts and ideations are down 66 percent and our successful suicides are down 100 percent. Staff assaults are down 60 percent, and our inmate-on-inmate assaults are down 40 percent as well.

"RESTON, Va., June 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Global Tel*Link (GTL), the leading provider of correctional technology solutions and an innovator in payment services solutions for government agencies, today announced that by working closely with the Pima County Corrections Bureau, it has successfully completed a pilot program and will now expand the program making tablets available to all 2,300 inmates. These secure tablets are equipped with features which allow inmates to work on personal rehabilitation while serving their sentences."

"The U.S. Department of Education reports that state and local spending on prisons and jails in the U.S. has increased at triple the rate of funding for K-12 public education in the last three decades. What a horrible revelation…enough to shock even the most cynical reader I suspect! 

Correction experts are trying hard and many are turning to options never considered in the past. In numerous locations, prisoners are being placed into cells with tablet computers. It is a trend that is growing quickly."

"The Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) is somewhat of an early adopter of emerging communications technology. For several years it has offered electronic messaging, an email-like service that allows people in prison to send and receive messages using a proprietary, fee-based platform operated by a contractor. Colorado DOC’s electronic messaging program isn’t perfect, but its rollout was notable for giving people a new communication option. The tablet program, on the other hand, foreshadows a potential new paradigm in corrections, shifting numerous communications, educational, and recreational functions to a for-profit contractor; and, at the same time, making incarcerated people and their families pay for services, some of which are now commonly funded by the state."

"For seasoned corrections officers, the notion of freely handing out expensive electronic tablet devices to an incarcerated population seems absolutely absurd. I was guilty of the same opinion until I took a deeper look at this new generation of inmate program management. This article highlights current pilot programs and the opportunity cost to issuing tablets to inmates in jails and prisons."

"As with most aspects of life, communications options for incarcerated people are in flux due to technological changes. For practical, political, and technical reasons, communications methods have evolved more slowly in prison than in the outside world, but change is nonetheless here. New technologies such as video visitation and electronic messaging have the potential to improve quality of life for incarcerated people and help correctional administrators effectively run secure facilities. Yet the promise of these new services is often tempered by a relentless focus on turning incarcerated people and their families into revenue streams for both private and public coffers. The lucrative market for prison-based telephone service has received substantial attention since 2012, when the Federal Communications Commission reinvigorated a long-stagnant regulatory proceeding concerning rates and business practices in the ICS market. Although the focus of the FCC proceeding has thus far been on telephone service, ICS is not just limited to voice calls — there are emerging technologies with which a growing number of prisons and jails are experimenting." This is a great report about the technology offenders can use to communicate with people outside a correctional facility and the problems associated with such use. Sections comprising this report are: communication options behind bars--traditional communication channels (i.e., in-person visiting, phone calls, postal communication, and electronic messaging—inbound-only systems, and two-way systems); an overview of the industry-- general ICS providers, commissary operators, financial service firms, specialty companies, procurement practices, revenue and fee structures, end-user pricing; overview of messaging services—benefits of electronic messaging, drawbacks, character limits, and diffusion of accountability; unknowns—protection of data, ownership of contents, and protection of attorney-client privilege; recommendations for the Federal Communications Commission, state legislatures and public utility commissions, and correctional administrators.

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