Prison inmates across the state are receiving tablets so they can connect with loved ones and access educational opportunities.
The tablets were distributed at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield in November and December, said Karen Martucci, director of Internal Affairs for the state Department of Correction. So far over 1,500 tablets have been distributed to inmates at that facility.
“The response from the incarcerated population has been overwhelmingly positive,” Martucci said in an email.
While the tablets can access approved educational programming and allow inmates to communicate with their loved ones through a secure connection, they do not provide access to the internet, the DOC said in a statement.
The tablets are provided by JPAY Inc, a Securus Technology company, at no cost to the state. In April 2019 the Department of Administrative Services, on behalf of the Department of Correction, signed a contract with JPAY to provide tablets to the state’s approximately 9,000 inmates.
The next phase of the distribution will begin this week at the Manson Youth Institution in Cheshire, followed by York Correctional Institution in Niantic in February, Martucci said. She noted that any problems during the pilot phase, along with any issues caused by the pandemic, will affect the timeline for statewide distribution at all 14 correctional facilities. The department hopes to distribute the tablets to all facilities by summer.
Restrictions were placed on in-person visitation last year due to the pandemic. Martucci said the tablets will be a “wonderful option to keep families connected to their incarcerated loved ones.” There is no limit on how often an inmate can communicate with family.
“...The agency recognizes how critical family unification is to a successful re-entry,” Martucci said.
The inmates will use the tablets while they are incarcerated, and return them when they are released.
Inmates will also have the opportunity to buy electronic books and music.
“From all perspectives this seems to be a win-win situation,” said DOC Commissioner Designate Angel Quiros. “The inmate population gets educational materials and contact with their loved ones, which are factors contributing to successful reentry.”