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Inmate Use of Computer Tablets in Pima County

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2017
2 pages
This article explains why allowing inmates in the Pima County (Arizona) correctional facility to use computer tablets has improved safety for both inmates and staff while providing access to life skills training and inmate contact with their families.
The sheriff's department conducted a 6-month pilot tablet program that began in December 2015. The pilot program tested the durability and security of the tablets and the WiFi. Participating inmates were instructed to try and breach the security, which they were unable to do. Trusting that the tablets were secure and durable, they were then distributed to all inmates. If an inmate engages in problem behavior, the tablet is taken away for a period of time. This has proven to be an incentive for reducing inmate misconduct. Since the introduction ot the tablets, suicides, inmate-on-inmate fights, and inmate altercations with staff have declined by at least 50 percent. Through a secure intranet, inmates are provided access to anger management programs and employment training. For a monthly fee, users can stream music. They can exchange emails (approximately 2,000 characters for 25 cents) and call family members (20 cents a minute) through a secure, monitored server. Each email message and phone call is monitored. Family members cannot directly call an inmate; however, they can call and leave a short message for an inmate to call them at a certain day and time. Inmates have free access to an electronic law library and to hundreds of free e-books. Inmates can use their tablets to request medical care and notarization of paperwork for court. The vendor provided tablets free to the department and installed servers and WiFi. The vendor kept all revenue generated from tablet use for the first year; revenue is now shared with Pima County.

Date Published: November 1, 2017