24 Jan 2019
Allowing Computer Tablets in Prison
South Carolina Department of Corrections director, Bryan Stirling, is proposing a program to allow computer tablets in our state prison system. The State newspaper reporter Emily Bohatch reports Stirling is considering allowing prisoners to have access to computer tablets. Stirling states this would possibly decrease violence in prisons, help with prisoner’s educational goals, cut down on illegal cell phone use and provide a solution for employee shortages in the prison system.
A plan on how inmates will access tablets in still unclear. There is consideration to allow prisoners to check out tablets or to buy a tablet through the prisoner commissary. Subscriptions to entertainment applications for movies, music, and games would be available to be purchased by inmates. The tablets would have preapproved applications and would use a “highly-secure customized Android operating system that has been modified to permanently remove features that could present potential security risks.” Says Chris Ditto, the senior vice president for Research and Development at Global Tel Link – a company that runs the tablet program for prisons. Inmates will only be capable of connecting to a network run by this company.
Violence in prison is a frequent occurrence. Gang members in the prisons are known to control the use of phones. Stirling thinks “the program will create a safer environment inside South Carolina prisons.” If tablets were allowed in prisons, inmates would be able to make phone calls and email their families from the privacy of their cell. Currently prisoners wait to use the phones in a common area of the prison. The tablets will give inmates a reason to spend more time in their cells. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, as they say,” Stirling said. “We just need to keep them busy.” Tablet usage would be monitored by prison staff as the telephones are now. Fitsnews reports the correction officers will have “total control over the network, and total control over each individual tablet (including whether inmates were allowed access to their tablets at all).”
The tablet program would also help with prisoner’s educational goals such as obtaining a General Education Diploma (GED), allowing prisoners to study for their GED and access online classes in the privacy of their cells. Gary Mohr, the former director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation Corrections, said the program allows the prison system to “return people to the community better than when they came to us.”
Illegal cell phones have become a major problem for the prison system. Several inmates told The State they buy illegal cell phones because making a call through the prison’s current system is very expensive. The cost of communicating with inmate’s family members via the tablets would...