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Indiana Prison Officials Propose Giving Inmates Computer Tablets by the End of the Year

Indiana prison officials have put forth a proposal that would give prison inmates in the state computer tablets so they can communicate with family and further their education.

Their proposal includes creating a secure network and installing electronics in over two dozen state correctional facilities by the end of the year, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Inmates could access educational materials, order from the commissary, and even pay for entertainment. Under the proposal, money for entertainment would fund the program.

The Indiana Department of Correction is hoping that a vendor will pay the costs up front and be willing to be reimbursed later. The vendor would make a profit when inmates buy music or movies.

The state will determine how much the fees for entertainment would be depending on the vendor they select, WXIN reports. IDOC officials say vendor applications for the tablets are due by April 24 so they can implement the program by the end of the year.

The department also said corrections officers could use entertainment as a way of rewarding good behavior.

“Historically, corrections has always been based on consequences,” Indiana Department of Correction executive director William Wilson said. “But what we’ve learned is that sometimes through positive reinforcement you gain better performance, better behavior.”

The tablets would be developed specifically for use in prisons, where software would be secure and give corrections officers the ability to monitor their use.

Some, however, say this new initiative has the potential to be abused. Indiana Public Defender Council spokeswoman Kristin Casper said inmates could face added fees for the tablets.

“There’s so much potential for this to be abused,” Casper said. “That’s our biggest issue with this.”

The IOC says the goal of the program to reduce recidivism, or the possibility one might relapse to their previous criminal behavior.

IDOC data shows that the rate of recidivism is consistently above 35 percent.

“Our goal is to make sure that when these guys do go back to their communities, that they can be a contributing member,” Wilson said. “If we don’t allow offenders to have real-world access to education, to programming, to electronic devices — then we’ve become part of the problem.”

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