Tablet program being considered at jail

The Bradford County Prison Board is looking over a proposal to bring tablets into the jail for inmates.

The Bradford County Prison Board is looking into a program that would provide tablets that inmates can borrow during the day to help with self improvement, legal research, or to pay for entertainment that has been pre-approved by Bradford County Correctional Facility administration.

According to Warden Donald Stewart, the program was included under the phone contract they signed with GTL around two years ago, although they put the program on hold in order to focus on implementing the new system.

Now in a better position to move forward, Stewart brought the tablet program before the Prison Board Wednesday.

He explained that the tablets would be in a centralized location with one tablet per every two inmates in a unit, and inmates will be able to use them during recreation time. He added that they would not be connected to the internet.

Inmates can fill out request slips, do research in the law library, participate in educational programs or help groups, and attend religious services through the tablets, according to Stewart. There will also be entertainment, such as movies and music, but the entertainment will come at a cost per minute. Stewart noted that any entertainment provided by GTL for the tablets will have to be pre-approved by jail administration, and are only available on an internal server.

“A lot of places use them already,” Stewart explained. “During COVID, it was really big. People used them for video visitation.”

However, Stewart will not be allowing video visitation at the Bradford County facility since oversight of it can be difficult.

“They (tablets) have shown to help a lot of inmate issues in the jail like suicides because the inmates can find something to occupy their mind instead of dwelling on stuff, so that’s why our mental health people are really in favor of it,” Stewart said. “Our program staff are in favor of it because with COVID right now, we’re limited to five guys in a unit in a class and then we have to run a separate class for the next unit. Now, we can basically do like all of the schools are doing. … There’s many benefits to it.”

Inmates will not be allowed to take the tablets into their cells overnight in order to prevent hacking.

“Somebody can have all night long to figure something out,” he said. “If they are sharing them … I think it gives them much less time to cause mischief.”

A decision on the tablet program was tabled Wednesday so that the Prison Board could have more time to review it, since members had received initial correspondence about the program the day before.

If approved, implementation would still take a few months due to delays in ordering, Stewart said.

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