BOISE (AP)• Inmates in southwestern Idaho are now corresponding with family members and friends electronically via the jail’s new tablets.
The Canyon County Jail has about three dozen tablets for inmates to check out. The electronic devices were provided at no cost this fall from San Francisco-based company Telmate, which provides tablets to 300 jails and prisons nationwide, The Idaho Statesman reported.
Inmates are charged 5 cents per minute to send text messages of up to 500 characters to those outside the jail who set up an account with Telmate. Outside correspondents have to pay 25 cents to send messages to inmates.
The tablets also offer access to games and music as well as approved news, sports and weather websites. Inmates can also browse a law library on the devices.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that they would probably be pretty excited about getting them,” said Lt. Andrew Kiehl, the jail inmate supervisor. “They’re being used, but we don’t have inmates waiting for other inmates to put them up so they can be used.”
There is about one tablet for every 10 prisoners at the Canyon County Jail. All general population inmates have access to the devices, unless their privileges have been revoked due to disciplinary action
Jails in Twin Falls and Burley also provide tablets for inmates.
Kiehl said officials at the Canyon County Jail were not entirely sure about getting the tablets when they were first approached by Telmate. But after consulting with Ada County officials, who “had nothing but praise for the tablets,” they chose to allow the devices, said Kiehl.
Canyon County officials were assured that they could monitor inmates’ use of the tablets and view the messages that are being sent.
“They showed us on a computer what activity was being seen on the tablets, who was using them and for how long, what the battery life was,” Kiehl said. “They quelled our fears about not having control over them.”
Telmate is the fastest growing provider of inmate phones and video visitation, secure messaging, mobile applications, inmate tablets and investigator tools. Telmate’s cutting-edge platforms are deployed in over 300 correctional facilities in North America spanning nearly all U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Telmate is headquartered in San Francisco, California. To find out more about Telmate, visit http://www.telmate.com.