INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana prison officials have proposed providing inmates with computer
tablets to help them connect with family and further their educations.
includes creating a secure network and installing electronic kiosks across
nearly two dozen Indiana Department of Correction facilities. Vendor
applications are due by April 24. The department hopes to get the program
going by the end of the year, agency executive director William Wilson told
The Indianapolis Star.
access classwork and self-help materials on the tablets. They also could
order from the commissary or pay for entertainment. The money from
entertainment would help pay for the program. The department hopes a vendor
will pay the costs up front, then be reimbursed and earn a profit when
inmates buy music and movies. Department officials also could reward good
behavior by giving inmates access to entertainment on the tablets.
corrections has always been based on consequences,” Wilson said, “but what
we’ve learned is that sometimes through positive reinforcement you gain
better performance, better behavior.”
The tablets likely
wouldn’t be like the iPads or Kindles common at homes. Companies develop
special tablets and software for use in prisons that are more secure and can
be controlled by prison officials.
There are concerns,
though. Indiana Public Defender Council spokeswoman Kristin Casper worries
inmates might face added fees for tablets.
“There’s so much
potential for this to be abused,” Casper said. “That’s our biggest issue
the tablets making prison tasks easier, such as allowing inmates to contact
their cases managers, which now is done with paper and pen. Substance abuse
and anger management programming can be offered on the tablets, too.
“Our goal is to
make sure that when these guys do go back to their communities, that they
can be a contributing member,” Wilson said. “If we don’t allow offenders to
have real-world access to education, to programming, to electronic devices -
then we’ve become part of the problem.”