Everything is evolving nowadays, even prison conditions. The phone call that all the inmates have the right to use may turn into an email or even instant messaging in the future. Most prisons rely on the fixed telephone as means of communication with the outside world, for the inmates.


Meanwhile, more and more facilities are adopting email via handheld devices. Chris Grewe is the CEO of APDS (America Prison Data Systems) and is working on providing prison-modified tablet computers for correctional facilities. There are several cryteria that have to be met before offering an inmate a tablet. The device has to be rugged, protected against disassembly, hacking and it should have limited functionality.

Prison is about rehabilitation, education and vocational training. Some of the educational content can be provided digitally through tablets. Slates are also said to reduce recidivism among inmates, according to studies. For example, a 2013 study by the RAND Corporation found that the prisoners who took part in educational programming were 43% less likely to return to prison than the inmates who didn’t.

Also, regular contact with the family will reduce the risk of being re incarcerated once the prisoner is released. Tablets are also seen as valuable replacements for teachers, who cost a jail $50k or $60 in salary and benefits, while 20 tablets cost half that amount and can educate a large number of inmates. There’s also potential for revenue, like charging families for emails, photos and other content.

Inmates are also charged quite a lot for tablets and music download. In the end, it’s very helpful to know if these tablets are actually helping, or if they’re one step away from being hacked for gaming purposes.