New tablets improve inmate communication system in Etowah County

New inmate communication system at Etowah County Jail

ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A new inmate communication system in Etowah County means all jail inmates will have access to tablets.

Securis Technologies will provide all 900 inmates with a tablet that will have access to educational materials and law libraries.

Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton says the previous provider only had tablets for a third of the population, some 260 out of 900. The shortage sometimes caused fights when someone used one too long.

Every three years, Horton says, the sheriff's office is required to re-evaluate its inmate communication system, with various vendors submitting their best offers and a committee evaluating those offers.

He says the tablets are not standard, everyday tablets with access to social media, instead they are used for rehabilitation purposes. The tablets only have access to the provider’s inner server, not the actual internet, and are not used for entertainment purposes.

“This is not an iPad the inmate’s getting. It’s a simple tablet device, The inmate can order their commissary off of it, they can make calls off of it, they can look at educational material,” said Horton.

Horton says it simply amounts to a technology upgrade from phone landlines.

The tablets are provided free to the sheriff’s office, but inmates must pay for access. Horton says that revenue stream will be used to improve the jail.

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