Each prisoner in the New York State prison system is soon going to be getting a free tablet.
The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision recently announced plans to partner with JPAY, a company that provides inmate services.
WKBW noted, however, that the tablets will not be handed out at the taxpayers’ expense, and DOCCS will not be collecting any commissions for the devices.
Acting DOCCS commissioner Anthony J. Annucci praised the move, calling it “groundbreaking.”
Acting Commissioner Annucci: in a groundbreaking move the Department will provide each incarcerated individual a tablet, at no cost, with the ability to access free educational material and eBooks and to file grievances
— NYS DOCCS (@NYSDOCCS) January 30, 2018
“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,” Annucci said Tuesday during a state legislative budget hearing, according to CNN.
The tablets will come pre-loaded with educational content in an effort to help rehabilitate prison inmates.
Moreover, prisoners will have the ability to use the devices for filing grievances and reporting violence within the prison, according to WKBW.
The tablets are reportedly not going to be connected to the internet, but inmates will still be able to use them for such entertainment purposes as purchasing music, videos and e-books.
Prisons will also have kiosks, where inmates can connect their tablets under supervision to send emails to approved recipients.
The JPAY-provided tablets are part of a larger financial program to enable inmates’ friends and relatives to more easily send money to those incarcerated.
Clarification on the new tablet initiative at DOCCS. pic.twitter.com/bRv9asGTYh
— NYS DOCCS (@NYSDOCCS) January 31, 2018
But New York is not the first state to implement such a program.
According to CNN, both Colorado and Georgia have already introduced similar programs, and Georgia is also working with JPAY.
Officials in Georgia indicated in a statement that the devices will be able to “maintain and enhance family communications; and assist with their re-entry into society.”
Meanwhile, Connecticut recently announced similar plans for their correctional system, with a scheduled introduction of the new technology set to come “sometime in the spring,” Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple said late last month.
“These tablets are an embedded network where there is no risk of victimization with the use of Wi-Fi, but it has a lot of capability to keep people connected with technology,” he added.
As for New York, the new initiative has attracted a lot of controversy.
Republican State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who represents Batavia, is opposed to the program. WKBW reported that he had plans to contact New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and DOCCS in order to insist that the program not be implemented.
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