On the surface, the notion seems preposterous: Hand out Samsung computer tablets to dozens of Sacramento County jail inmates. But 40 of the tablets have been in use at the jail for two months, and officials say they have had virtually no problems, reports the Sacramento Bee. Inmates have used them to take classes toward high school diplomas, for parenting and domestic violence courses and, once they have earned enough points from studying, to watch preapproved movies or listen to music.
The project, which officials hope soon will offer 500 tablets to inmates, is similar to others that have been launched in jails nationwide and is not costing taxpayers a dime, sheriff's Sgt. Brian Amos said. The tablets, which cost $200 each, are paid for through an inmate fund that collects revenues from commissary and other purchases. “An inmate can work on their GED, they can take anger management classes,” Amos said. “We had an inmate here during this pilot who was learning how to fix carburetors on a car or fix brakes. There's thousands of hours of content.” The computers cannot be used for email or be hooked up to wireless Internet. They can connect only with a secure network operated by a Chicago-based company called Edovo that offers the service. Amos said the pilot program has proved to have a calming effect on inmates who have been given access to the devices.