The Utah County Jail has started providing electronic tablets to inmates, allowing them to access educational, community, training, religious, and entertainment resources as of Nov. 9. The jail’s personnel have told reporters that the gadgets are a boon for prisoners.
The tablets are supplied through a contract with Securus, a communications firm that also provides phone, visiting, and e-message systems for inmates. Every jail inmate is given one tablet per day unless they are on a unique watch or have high-risk status, of which there are about 460 people in the facility.
There’s lots of free content available, including clocks and calculators. There are thousands of podcasts to listen to, religious applications, and e-books. Inmates may not apply for jobs while in jail; however, they can find out what they need to know when they’re released by using the job search app.
“We have been working to make this project happen for a couple of years, but with COVID and all the problems that created we couldn’t get the tablets,” said Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith. “The inmates have been excited and as patient as possible. I have had several during the process tell me how excited they are to get them.”
According to Utah County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Regan Clark, inmates cannot talk with external parties while incarcerated but can access employment information when released.
K-8 and university content, as well as films like “Chasing the Dragon,” a documentary about drug addiction that aims to educate viewers, are available in different educational apps.
The FYI app includes access to the inmate handbook, schedules, tablet rules, religious services, manuals, and information on community resources such as homeless shelters and mental health options.
The tablets’ crucial feature is communication. Inmates were only able to use phones while going for leisure time out of their cells before the introduction of the tablets. They can, however, make phone calls from their cells thanks to the tablet. The devices also allow you to send electronic messages and digital cards directly from them, such as birthday cards.
The tablets also allow inmates to purchase commissary goods, such as food and hygiene items. Inmates who want a subscription to additional content on their tablets can pay an extra $5 per month; however, some material has usage fees.
According to a quote from Regan Clark, “This would have been a great thing during COVID when things were shut down, and we had to limit religious services to the jail,” he said. “Now they can look at religious, educational and community resources. They can find things to look forward to and work for when they are released.”
Here are a list of benefits that inmates receive when using their tablets from Securus:
- Phone Calls – Inmates may make calls directly from their tablets allowing for more privacy. The rates are the same as the phones in the unit, and the calls are still recorded and monitored.
- eMessaging – Communicate via a text-based message or picture. Fee-based system.
- Job Search – Using JobView, a secure job search application, inmates can see what jobs are available when released.
- Education – Free educational platform and course catalog provides thousands of educational resources.
- Self Help -Inmates have daily access to mental health and addiction recovery programming.
- Music – Top-40, Hip-Hop, Country, Rock, Gospel, and more.
- Law Library – Legal research with up-to-date case information.
- eBooks – Thousands of available titles.
- Religion – Religious resources for spiritual guidance.
- Games – Inmates can play their favorite games. Available through monthly subscriptions
- Facility Services – Digital access to submitted forms, requests, facility documents, and notifications from staff.
Should More Prisons Introduce Tablets for Inmates?
Tablets could provide significant benefits in prisons; they could enable inmates to communicate with family, friends, or mentors through social media, allowing people on the outside to support those on the inside. In addition, tablets would allow prison libraries to expand their catalog by providing inmates access to e-books and other digital content.
Furthermore, tablets could give inmates access to educational courses and will enable them to stay up-to-date on world news and events; This could reduce recidivism rates by exposing prisoners to information they may not have had access to while incarcerated.
Tablets also offer other benefits, such as providing prisoners with activities like recreational games that encourage problem-solving and creativity while helping them pass prison time more productively.
The tablets also can be used for therapeutic purposes, such as art therapy and music production applications for those interested in creative pursuits. Additionally, providing secure online facilities could help individuals learn coding skills essential for reentry into the workforce upon release from jail.
However, we need to be careful before giving prisoners tablets. The devices should have security measures, like software that protects against viruses that prisoners cannot turn off or change.
In addition, there must be rules about what types of things can be on the tablet so that people inside the prison can only see things that are appropriate for a secure environment like a prison. Lastly, we need to have a way to track how the devices are being used and make sure that no one is doing anything illegal with them.
In conclusion, introducing tablets into jails has potential benefits for those inside prison walls and those who oversee them outside. Provided implementation takes place thoughtfully and cautiously, with all necessary safety protocols put into place first.
With careful management and responsible use of these devices in mind, along with proper monitoring systems in place, providing inmates access to information via tablets can offer substantial advantages that may aid in successful reintegration back into society after incarceration ends.
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Our hands-on experiential lessons are designed to give these youths insight into potential career paths and provide them with the financial literacy they need to make informed decisions.
Inmates across the country are being provided with tablets to access educational materials and stay connected to their families and friends, even while in prison. The tablets have built-in security features, and inmates can access over half a million free books, legal documents, and self-help resources.
These programs are helping inmates gain new skills and knowledge while in jail and give them a greater sense of connection to the outside world. Providing inmates with tablets is essential to helping them better prepare for life after incarceration.