Contrary to popular belief, prison isn’t just a massive row of concrete, steel, criminals and guards — learning goes on there, too. Library books only get you so far, though, and a lot of prisons are starting to incorporate technology into their reformation program.
One prison servicing firm called JPay has developed low cost tablets fit for inmates. These $70 slabs don’t look great, but they have a touch screen (a tiny phone-like 4.3-inch touch screen, mind you), 32GB of storage and even some recreational features such as music, games and email. Yes, prison has internet in this day and age.
The tablets are built with care to ensure they can’t be used as weapons, with JPay going as far as using transparent polycarbonate plastic to make sure someone can’t stick a shiv up there without the guards noticing.
JPay’s technological reach expands beyond simple tiny slabs of glass and plastic. The company helps prisoners’ family send commissary money, make video visits and more.
The hope is that the access to all this will help incarcerated individuals keep up with modern technology so they won’t be lost when they’ve been released and start the inevitably tough job hunt. The access to potential learning tools without having to visit the library should also help contribute to a more blissful education experience.
At the same time, it’s probably a nice distraction for inmates that could help them wind down and get through their prison sentence without dying of boredom and resorting to doing, well, stupid stuff. Whether they deserve it is up to your own individual belief, but if it’s helping to cut down on repeat offenders then we can’t see any huge downside.