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On Aug. 10, 2021, Valley State Prison (VSP) in Chowchilla, California, became the first to provide free Global Tel Link (GTL) Wi-Fi tablets to its incarcerated population.
Earlier in February, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had said it entered into a contract with GTL to expand free tablet and kiosk access and reduce phone rates. “The enhanced communication project aims to strengthen the bonds between the incarcerated population with their families and communities,” according to its website.
It said that jails and prisons nationwide were seeing the benefit of providing electronic access to rehabilitative programs, departmental updates and leisure activities like games and books.
Unsurprisingly, many of the questions revolved around how the tablet can operate as a phone. The phone app allows calls to be made from the tablets anytime from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the dayroom, in the cell, or — believe it or not — in the yard.
For some people, the messaging app is the best thing about the tablets because it allows near-real-time texting (but not email) between the incarcerated individual and their loved ones, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Better still, messaging provides a way for people outside to contact those on the inside without having to wait for a phone call or for the prison mail system, which is so slow it seems like it’s being delivered by a glacier.
To read more of Benjamin Frandsen's article, please click here.
[Photo by Emma Steinhobel on Unsplash.]