KEARNEY — The Buffalo County Jail has gone paperless for inmate requests and correspondence with family members.

Through the Buffalo County Jail’s current inmate communication system, Telmate, inmates can send medical requests and grievances electronically. With the use of a 7-inch hand-held tablet, inmates also can send email messages to family members. In return, family members can send messages and photos from home.

The service began in October, and Sheriff Neil Miller said the tablets have a protective cover and reduce a lot of the paper trail jail staff used to have to track.

“It allows their inmate requests to be done in a digital form that we then can answer digitally, and it reduces a lot of steps for the nurses, medical staff and us. It starts digital, and it stays digital,” he said.

Inmates also can use the tablets for restricted Web browsing. All of the correspondence is monitored.

Telmate is a fully automated system that provides inmates telephone services, and money to be put on an inmate’s commissary account.

There are 22 tablets, one for each of the cell blocks, and the bigger blocks have two. Inmate request information is digitally archived.

“It helps us manage all the requests that come in to make sure they’re getting answered in some way or another,” Miller said. “It reduces a lot of steps from what we used to do, and it just makes it easier for us to manage these systems by doing it this way.”

Since October, only one tablet has been damaged.

“This is something that they (inmates) really want, so it tends to get taken better care of,” Miller said of the tablets.

The tablets were an additional service from Telmate at no cost to the county.

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