An Albany, New York sheriff is causing some controversy with his decision to allow jail inmates to use tablets behind bars. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple recently launched a new program inside of his jail cells that would allow inmates to use Apple tablets. Inmates would be allowed to do a variety of activities such as download music, play games and text family members and friends.
Despite the potential backlash and voiced concerns from community members, the Sheriff stated that he runs his jails as a business. Usage of the tablets behind bars is a revenue-generating activity. Inmate family members can place money within tablet accounts that allow inmates access to a number of apps. While inmates aren’t allowed to surf the internet, they are allowed to talk and text up to ten contacts that are vetted by the jail system.
Telmate, the inmate communications company behind the program, created the innovative tablet software that vets contacts before inmates can communicate with them. About 70 other jails across the United States operate a similar inmate communications program. Despite receiving some criticism from community members, the Sheriff contends that the program helps the jail system reduce costs. Right now, the Albany County jail system costs tax payers around $42 million a year according to the Sheriff.