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New York prisoners will be given free tablets, access to email: Report

A new contract will allow New York state prisons to issue all inmates with free tablet computers.

Anthony Annucci, acting commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), announced the controversial measure during a state budget hearing on Tuesday. The tablets will provide inmates access to e-books, music, and a supervised email program, according to USA Today.

DOCCS said that JPay, a company who concentrates on inmate-related services, will be providing state prisons with the tablets at no cost to the state or DOCCS. Additionally, DOCCS will not be taking a commission for the tablets, WKBW reported.

JPay produces a tablet called the JP5, which is specialized for prisons. The technology doesn’t give inmates direct access to the Internet. Instead, the tablets come with pre-approved apps and features, such as an email service, which can only be connected to through kiosks with secured networks, according to USA Today.

Though the state doesn’t stand to lose money through this deal, it’s a potential money grab for JPay. While accessing educational materials is free, inmates are charged for sending emails. If the tablet were to break due to an inmate’s misuse, or if it’s out of warranty, the inmate can repurchase another using their own funds.

“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,” JPay said in a statement.

WPIX reported that, as of March 2016, there were 52,000 inmates in New York Department of Corrections’ facilities. Officials believe the measure will help inmates be more prepared when they return to society, hopefully lowering the recidivism rate.

The tablet program will start this summer.

[Featured Image: Pixabay]