The tablets, which run on the Android operating system, were provided by
The tablets are fairly regulated, said Capt.
"They can click the link and it says 'access denied,'" Hughes said.
There's no traditional email, but inmates can send and receive messages from approved contacts on their Telmate account. Hughes said jail deputies can read all the messages and certain words are flagged to bring potential criminal behavior to their attention. Dangerous inmates don't get access to the tablets, he said, only inmates who are classified to be minimum or medium security.
A medium-security inmate might be someone with a low-level felony, like forgery, Hughes said. A minimum-security inmate might have a driving under the influence charge with no previous criminal record, he said.
"You misbehave, you start losing privileges," Hughes said.
The money inmates spend on the service goes to
Hughes said he met with
"We're tightening down access to websites," he said.
Hughes and Carter say they're looking forward to other features that the tablets will do in the future, including assisting with educational programs and GED testing. Families of an inmate might soon be able to place a video call straight to the tablet from their home. This will be especially beneficial to inmates who have family out of state or who have disabled family members who can't make it into the jail, Carter said.
Hughes said he understands some will criticize the program as being soft on inmates who are supposedly being punished.
"Jail is the punishment," Hughes said. "We're not here to punish them."
The punishment is being taken away from society, he said.
It's good to stay tied to the community and family even when incarcerated, Hughes said.
"So they don't become a warehoused, institutionalized person," he said.
Some people are simply criminals who will constantly be in and out of prisons and jails, Carter said, but that's not most inmates.
"There are a lot of people who have done something dumb and they're paying for it," he said.
One of the main goals of jail is to ensure that inmates go back into society well adjusted.
"We want to provide avenues to stay in touch with society," Hughes said.
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