San Francisco jail inmates now have the opportunity to access computer tablets as part of the institution’s educational programs, the Bay City News Service reports. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, along with its associated charter school, partnered with New York-based American Prison Data Systems on a pilot program to provide content-secured tablets to inmates, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said. The program is aimed at increasing an inmate’s ability to access education and reduce recidivism. In addition to GED classes, the jail offers vocational training in what Mirkarimi calls “marketable skills,” including bicycle repair, solar panel installation and urban gardening, among others.
“It’s all about public safety and crime prevention,” Mirkarimi said. “If we equip people in our custody with a desire to learn — that also requires some motivation to help them learn and to stick with it — then we are seeing less and less people return to the San Francisco jail system.” The jail purchased 125 tablets for 1,300 inmates. Mirkarimi said the tablet program is a natural extension of the jail’s Five Keys Charter High School, an independent accredited charter school on the jail’s premises that has been in operation for 11 years. In the past four years, Mirkarimi said, the recidivism rate of inmates has dropped nearly 40 percent to a 44 percent total.