New York State plans to provide every inmate with a free computer tablet from a Florida-based company that provides services to prison systems.
The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says Wednesday that the approximately 51,000 inmates in 54 prisons will be eligible to receive one of the portable personal computers being provided to the state by Miami-based JPay Inc. at no cost to taxpayers.
DOCCS officials say the tablets will come preloaded with educational material. The devices won't be able to access the internet, but tablets can be used to purchase music, e-books and videos from JPay through an electronic account system being set up.
The tablets can also be used to send and receive emails.
Acting DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annucci announced the tablet program Tuesday during a state budget hearing.
Assemblymember Steve Hawley was quick to criticize the program. The Batavia Republican wrote a letter to the governor and DOCCS demanding the program be shut down immediately.
“This policy decision to reward and furnish luxury items like these tablets to prisoners is an affront to our law-abiding citizens,” Hawley wrote in the letter. “We already have people moving to New York State for our lavish Medicaid programs and now criminals will also be moving here and if convicted and sent to a state prison will have access to luxuries not afforded in other out of state correctional facilities. I call on you to reconsider this misguided policy and urge JayP Inc. to work with our school system, libraries and veterans organizations to furnish tablets to law abiding citizens."