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Oklahoma Corrections Tablet Program Gets Mixed Reviews

A few years after the first tablets were issued to Oklahoma prison inmates, the program is receiving a mixed reception, News From The States reports. Some question the effectiveness of the initiative and whether the costs inmates have to pay for access are reasonable. Supporters say the program assists inmates in navigating some of the complexities of reentry into society and helps the Department of Corrections cut down on contraband and illicit activity behind bars.  Over 80% of the approximately 21,500 inmates have been issued a tablet, said Jason Sparks, the Department of Corrections chief of operations.  The project began in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic as a pilot initiative when access to programs and other activities was shut down to protect the inmates.

Today, inmates can use the tablets to communicate with family, attend programs, obtain legal assistance and access movies, educational programs and books. Inmates will also soon be able to schedule medical and dental appointments and file grievances on their tablets. Corrections officials use the tablets to help control what inmates access. “With a contraband cell phone, they have access to the entire internet,” Sparks said. “We are unable to control anything. While it is still possible for an offender to reach out to a victim or participate in fraud using the devices, Sparks said the agency has not found a security issue with offenders using the devices. No taxpayer dollars are involved. The tablets are funded through the contract with the agency’s prison phone vendor. Not all are pleased with the initiative. For years, inmate families have complained about the cost of talking by phone to someone behind bars. Inmates or family and friends pay a $3 connection fee and 14 cents a minute for North American calls.


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