Giving inmates tablet computers designed to streamline Allen County Jail operations, reduce inmate problems

Most Allen County Jail inmates now will receive use of a personal tablet computer, which will give them access to documents and materials the jail legally must provide and allow them to work on rehabilitating themselves, read religious scripture or ebooks, and make phone calls or send short messages to people outside the jail.

The Inspire Inmate Communications Devices are provided at no cost to taxpayers and will be given to inmates as an incentive for good behavior, Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux said in a news release.

Other correctional facilities that have implemented similar programs have reported significant reductions in inmate assaults on jail officers and other inmates as well as a decrease in inmate suicide attempts, the news release said.

Currently, more than 700 Allen County Jail inmates have a tablet assigned to them, the news release said. The sheriff’s department partnered with Global Tel Link to provide the tablets.

“This decision was not taken lightly, as the sheriff’s intention is not to pamper inmates or make their stay more enjoyable,” the news release said.

Providing inmates with paperless access to materials the jail legally must provide will reduce strain on jail employees and resources and also will minimize the risk of possible lawsuits, the news release said.

Tablets won’t be provided to inmates who have destroyed one previously, have a history of destroying jail property or who are assessed as too mentally ill to be responsible for a tablet, the news release said.

The only free apps on the tablet will be for documents the jail most provide access to and for a calculator, the news release said.

Many other features available on the tablets will be sold on a subscription basis, with rates available in seven-day, 14-day and 30-day options, the news release said. The subscriptions will cover services such as music, games and ebooks.

Prices range from $1.49 plus tax for a seven-day ebooks subscription to $24.99 plus tax for a 30-day music subscription, the news release said.

The messaging feature will be a “simplified and restricted form of email,” the news release said. Each message, which can contain as many as 2,000 letters and characters, costs the inmate 25 cents, no matter whether the message is sent or received.

A person outside the jail must initiate the messaging contact with inmate by setting up an account at www.connectnetwork.com, the news release said.

In the future, friends and family will be able to send photos and 15-second videos to their family member or friend in jail at a cost of 25 cents per photo and $1 for each video clip, the news release said. The photos and video clips will be reviewed by jail staff before the inmate can receive them. Inmates won’t be able to send out photos or videos.

The phone calling feature on the tablets operates just like the wall phones at the jail and will carry the same costs and restrictions, the news release said.

In the future, the tablets possibly may offer movie streaming, commissary ordering, news feeds and video visitation, the news release said.

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