OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma prison inmates are set to receive tablets as part of a new program and partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and the communications company Securus Technologies.
The tablets are free to the state and are being provided by the communications company. They have absolutely no access to the internet. Officials with the department of corrections said they will provide learning opportunities and give them the chance to move “paperless.” Inmates can fill out paperwork and other necessary documents while incarcerated.
“This is just going to be a positive for everybody in the state of Oklahoma,” said Justin Wolf, Chief Administrator of Communications with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
It’s a borderline brand-new system to the state that is rolling out as we speak. The inmates can use the tablets in their cell and anywhere on the prison property.
“We’re really excited about this program,” Wolf said. “It’s going to provide a lot of services to our inmates.”
The tablets will work on the internal system of Securus Technologies. This is the company that won the bidding to provide them and phone services for prisons. Wolf said they are built specifically for prisons.
“These are built in with multiple countermeasures to prevent tampering,” Wolf said. “We’re not grabbing tablets off the shelf at Best Buy.”
However, they have absolutely no access to the internet whatsoever.
“They don’t even have the capacity to reach the internet because they are not built for internet services,” Wolf said.
Instead, they provide access to half a million books and even act as a phone for calls inmates can make in their cells.
“There’s also premium content that’s available, entertainment content and things like that, that inmates can purchase,” Wolf said.
On the other side, KFOR’s Facebook page blew up with people not pleased about the decision. One comment read, “Are we providing a vehicle next week?” Two others reading, “What about the poor children that didn’t have one for virtual schooling?” and “This is horrible. Kids can’t get tablets to use for school.”
KFOR checked with the Oklahoma Education Association. They said they’re on board. Their full statement can be read below.
“Education is a great equalizer, something no one can take from you once you have it. We believe all incarcerated persons should have access to educational programs through the correctional system.”ALICIA PRIEST, PRESIDENT OF THE OKLAHOMA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
Wolf and the Department of Corrections also said it was part of a bigger picture.
“We work on integrating them back in with society,” Wolf said. “As our inmates are released there’s a lot of skills that they need to have and one of those is computer and electronic literacy.”
Be sure to get fresh headlines delivered to your inbox weekday mornings! You can also sign-up for breaking email alerts! KFOR.com/Newsletters
The Department of Corrections does benefit from this contract financially. They are slated to receive $3.5 million annually through the first five years of the contract with the communications company and $3.75 million for the next five years after that. All inmates should have a tablet in their hands by the end of September.