Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pennsylvania Improving Entertainment Options for Prison Inmates

Going to prison is never going to be the best way to stay current with new technology – unless you’re really into security innovation, reported the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
But the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is putting final touches now on a pilot program that could soon give its inmates the chance to buy a customized electronic tablet through the prison’s commissary system.
Once operational, the tablets would permit inmates to download music, receive and send emails, and place orders for goods from the prison commissary.
“They are not iPads as you would know them,” Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said.
That’s because, he explained, the new tablets would not permit general Internet access.
But inmates would, for a fee, be able to use them to plug into a central kiosk through which they could download incoming emails or buy music from a vast pre-screened list, and then read or listen at their leisure.
Wetzel and Corrections Executive Deputy Secretary Shirley Moore Smeal said if the program works, they see it as having a couple of benefits:
• Improving entertainment options for inmates in their down time.
• Enhancing security.
On the latter point, where radios are available to inmates for purchase now, they have been used to store contraband, and component parts have been transformed into weapons.
“What we’re trying to do is replace radios, because radios have parts on them that become weapons. And also, we have some individual who are able to rewire their radios to… intercept our radio signals,” Wetzel told senators.
“These tablets are kind of the new wave… Much more secure.”

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