A new program by the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will give tablets to inmates for free. Inmates will be receiving the tablets equipped with free educational material and eBooks.

Using the tablets, inmates will be able to file grievances.

New Tablet Initiative

After initially tweeting about the news revealing the program, DOCCS had to react quickly to people reaching out with concerns about the plan. DOCCS facilities are glass-free, which would present a problem for the program, but it assured that this wouldn't be a problem.

"The tablets are not made out of glass and during a PILOT we have had only one damaged, not through physical force but because it got wet," said the DOCCS Twitter account, clarifying to a concerned user who posted a GIF that showed how a glass tablet could be broken.

DOCCS had to make it clear that the tablets will not have internet access.

One of the worries from those who opposed the move was whether taxpayer funds or DOCCS budget were being used for the program.

"The tablet initiative is not dependent on the budget as there are no state funds being used, nor is the Department taking commissions," said DOCCS in a tweet.

JPay — a corrections-related service provider — will be paying for the tablets. The program will be rolled out during the summer. Inmates will not have internet access through the tablets but will instead be on a separate service. Each tablet will come with "educational material," along with services such as Prison Rape Elimination Act reporting, grievance filing, and placing commissary orders.

Inmates will be able to use the tablet to make approved purchases of music, videos, and eBooks. JPay will take a cut of the proceeds. They will also be able to use the tablets to send email. Inmates will have to insert the tablets into special kiosks where they will be able to send emails to an approved list of recipients who will be heavily monitored.

There are some who are celebrating the move, such as Albany County sheriff Craig Apple.

"These are at no cost to the taxpayer," said Apple. "They're making things in the jail calmer, and when you have a calmer jail, you have a safer jail."

Others, such as victims and families of victims, including Julie Quinn, told WGRZ that she doesn't see what merits this gift to inmates.

"Why is he getting rewarded?" said Quinn "You are in prison, and as far as I'm concerned, that's supposed to be a place you don't get gifts, and that to me is a gift."

Quinn's brother is currently serving a sentence in New York state.

DOCCS was contacted about whether or not the victims' families were informed before the program was implemented but hasn't responded to messages yet.

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