Inmates Getting Tablets, Guards Not HappyPosted: Updated:
It appears inmates in state prisons are getting what corrections officers have longed for.
"We've been asking for years for additional technology," said Michael Powers, the president of New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, or NYSCOPA.
He says when the union and its members found out that more than 50,000 inmates in 54 state prisons would be receiving tablets, it wasn't met with joy.
"It seems as if our concern has kind of gone to the wayside," said Powers.
The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will be getting the tablets for free through a contract with a company called JPay.
The tablets come pre-loaded with educational material, but if an inmate wants to send an email, read an e-book or download music, they will have to pay for it. JPay gets the money for those purchases.
The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision believes this technology will improve connections with the inmates' families and better prepare inmates who are re-entering the community.
Officials also believe it will reduce the amount of hours inmates spend idle, which could make the prisons safer and less violent.
But while the inmates will be on their tablets, the corrections officers will be doing their jobs with a pencil and paper.
"The smaller, little aspects of technology we can use to move forward in our day to day operations would only be beneficial to the facility, to the administrations and to the people who operate in the jails everyday," said Powers.
Powers added that corrections officers in about 30 states use tablets and the union has reached out some other state unions for more facts.
Officials with the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision say the inmates will be getting their tablets sometime this year.