ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision plans to give tablets to all inmates in state prison.
“In a groundbreaking move, the department will provide each incarcerated individual a tablet at no cost with the ability to access free educational material in E-books and to file grievance,” DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci said at a legislative budget hearing on Tuesday.
When asked for more information Wednesday, a DOCCS official said the tablets are being paid for by a company called JPay. It is not coming out of the department’s budget, and it is not being paid for by taxpayers.
JPay is a company which, according to its website, helps inmates keep in touch with their family and friends.
Annucci told lawmakers inmates will be able to use the tablets to access educational material. They’ll also be able to buy books and music for their tablets, and use them to speak with family and friends through secure email.
On Wednesday, the DOCCS official said the tablets will not have internet access.
Leaders with NYSCOPBA, the union which represents prison guards, have a lot of questions about the program. Joe Miano, the Vice President for NYSCOPBA’s western region, said Tuesday’s announcement caught them off guard.
“They’re glass. They’re made out of glass,” Miano said. “That could be used as a weapon. Glass is considered contraband within the confines of a correctional facility. So not he department would be giving every single general population inmate contraband.
“It could be broken and used against other inmates, and God forbid other staff.”
A similar program was set to go into effect, in which inmates in Special Housing Units at three facilities across the state we able to use tablets. All inmates will receive one under the newly announced program.
It is set to go into effect later this year.