As of this summer, inmates in New York state's prison system are set to get a tablet device at no cost to them, according to USA Today. The tablets are part of a new initiative that gives inmates handheld access to all types of media from music and pre-approved e-books to supervised emails. The tablets will not have direct access to the internet.
Anthony Annucci, the acting Commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, announced the program during a recent state budget hearing. “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 e-books and to file grievances," he said.
The state agency also made it clear via Twitter that the technology would come at no cost to taxpayers since they will be provided for free by jail-service company JPay.
The tablet, called the JP5, was specifically designed with prison use in mind, being connected to a secure network and allowing inmates to access only approved features like pre-loaded books and educational materials. What will fall under pre-approved material is left to be seen, as two prisons in neighboring New Jersey were recently pressured to lift a ban on prohibiting inmates from reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. They will also be able to access email at an additional cost. JPay plans to foot the bill for all of the infrastructure and maintenance needed for the program to run smoothly.
"Similar to purchasing a song on iTunes or an online game, incarcerated individuals will have the same opportunity to purchase entertainment and media products and download them onto the JP5 device," said the company in a statement.
There are a total of 54 facilities within the New York prison system that the rollout would extend to later this year.