Some New York state prisoners have been issued computers that give them limited access to a variety of features including music, movies and emails.
“This program will better prepare incarcerated individuals to return to a society dominated by technology while also increasing social interactions with family and friends,” a prison spokesperson told Bronx Justice News.
The computers are provided free by JPay, but inmates pay for content and services.
The devices were provided initially to general population inmates at three female facilities and two youth facilities as part of a new pilot program, the April 6 story reported.
The tablets can access a variety of e-books, music, movies, videos, computer games, educational materials and news stories. They also allow prisoners to file grievances and make phone calls.
The tablets don’t have Wi- Fi capabilities, and all content access by inmates, must be pre-approved by state authorities, the story reported
“This month we will activate secure messaging, which are messages sent via a secure connection network through a kiosk in each facility and only to members of the pub- lic who have pre-registered to receive messages from specific incarcerated individuals at the pilot facilities,” a corrections spokesperson told the newspaper.
Some content is free, but most comes at a price. The cost of a single email mes- sage on a JPay tablet is 35 cents, with bundle discounts available, officials told Bronx Justice News. In some facilities elsewhere computer games like solitaire cost up to $7.9 and movie rentals and purchases can run from $2 to $25. New York officials said they have negotiated lower costs for their program.
JPay is expected to make nearly $9 million dollars off all content purchases by in- mates and their families and friends in its first five years of the program.
The company has been criticized for what prisoner advocates call exploitative fees, reported Bronx Justice News.
Tablets are expected to be given to the 50,000-plus prisoners within Department of Corrections and Community Supervision by September, corrections officials said.