Tablets for prisoners

Leave it to a solution provider to find a new market for commodity-based technology products.

Telmate Inc. of San Francisco is a solution provider that specializes in prison communications such as video visitation systems, secure messaging and its latest solution the inmate tablet.

Telmate has deployed solutions to more than 250 correctional facilities in the U.S. and four Canadian provinces.

Effingham County, in the Ogeechee and Savannah Rivers just north of Savannah, Ga., is Telmate’s latest customer to deploy wireless inmate tablet technology.

The Telmate Tablet has been created specifically for the unique needs of the corrections industry. It communicates over an ultra-secure, custom-built wireless network. The inmate tablet has security features that restrict and track any data being shared in and out of facilities.

telmatetablet2insertIt also features secure messaging and photo sharing, eBooks, music, videos, games and access to professional education and training Web sites. These applications have been custom-designed and carefully screened for approved correctional use, filtering all inmate interaction and communications before leaving the facility.

According to Telmate’s chief marketing officer, other Telmate facilities have reported a decrease in inmate violence since the installation of the tablets.

“Now that inmates can connect to services wirelessly from within their pod, there is less required movement in and out of pods and inmates have access to communications, entertainment, and self-improvement resources that enable more productive use of their time and keep them occupied,” said Jeff Hansen, Telmate’s chief marketing officer.

“Inmates also view these devices as a privilege, giving facility staff an additional means of control,” Hansen added.

Every Telmate Tablet requires a secure PIN for access and usage is completely controlled and monitored by facility staff. If an inmate attempts to tamper with or misuse the device, individual access privileges are disabled immediately, within seconds.

The Effingham facility comprises more than 300 beds and the new tablets help staff manage inmates more efficiently, the company claims. Effingham Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, said in a prepared statement that this new technology not only helps boost security and control, it also provides a safer community overall — all at no cost to the taxpayer.

Beginning in 2013, Telmate has been installing its tablet devices in correctional facilities throughout Idaho and Oregon and is currently serving thousands of inmates with its secure wireless service. The inmate tablet enables prisoners to communicate with friends and family, for example, Telmate believes this device goes further in transforming an inmate’s day from “wasted time” to “productive time” offering inmates the opportunity for self-improvement through continuing education, job skill training, and addiction counseling.

Bingham County Sheriff’s Office Captain Mark Cowley said decreasing inmate movement means decreasing possible illegal contact and transmission of contraband among inmates. In addition, tablets help automate repetitive high-cost administrative tasks so officers can focus more on security and control.

In addition to reducing inmate movement and automating administrative tasks, the tablet captures detailed usage activity increasing staff knowledge and control, and provides investigators with a source of actionable data, the company said.

Commander Mike Anderson from Clark County said inmates see the use of the Telmate Tablet as a privilege, they don’t want to jeopardize.

The company has designed three types of inmate tablet solutions:

Wall-mounted tablets are fixed devices designed specifically for use in high risk areas;

Individually distributed personal tablets can only be activated with a single PIN. These tablets feature a prominent name and photo of the designated inmate on the PIN entry screen to prevent user fraud and offer no video visitation capability; and

Group Shared Tablets are restricted to users with valid PINs in a single access zone. Access to individual apps and app categories are restricted by PIN, so all individual data is segregated by user. This means everything from apps, to Web sites, to video game high scores and desktop patterns are specific to each inmate. Group shared tablets do not offer video visitation capability.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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