Inmates at New York state prisons will be getting free tablet computers that will allow them to access educational material, file grievances and email their families, the state corrections department said Wednesday.
The tablets, provided by the company JPay, will be given to inmates at no cost to the state or to the inmates.
Inmates can also pay for e-books, music or other entertainment through their commissary account, money that goes to the company. The corrections department will receive no commission from any purchases on the tablets, officials said.
The devices will not have general internet access.
It’s not clear when the tablets might be provided to inmates. Anthony Annucci, the acting commissioner of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, announced the news at a budget hearing Wednesday in Albany.
He described giving tablets to inmates as a “groundbreaking move” that embraces technology to improve services for inmates and better connect them to their families.
There were more than 52,000 inmates in state custody in March 2016, according to the state.
JPay is the company the state already uses to process community supervision payments and payments from relatives to inmates’ commissary accounts. Several state prisons already have JPay kiosks in their lobbies. DOCCS officials called the tablet program a “contractual agreement the department recently entered into with JPay.”
The state has two contracts with JPay Inc.: One from August 2017 of $8.8 million contract for “inmate kiosks and related services” and another from 2015 of more than $216,00 for “supervision fees collection and accounting system for parolees.”
On JPay’s website, the website offers two models that have between 16 and 32 gigabytes of memory and allow users to listen to music, play games, view photos and videos, read the news and access educational materials. The tablets have screens of 4.3 inches and 7 inches.
It’s not clear from the DOCCS announcement which model will be provided to inmates.
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