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Tablet technology beneficial for Pima County jail inmates, offic - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Tablet technology beneficial for Pima County jail inmates, officials say

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Tablets designed to help manage inmate behavior at the Pima County jail have received an education upgrade.

"We can take classes on this; we can take anger management and get certificates. There's GED help books,” said Blake Harms, one of about 1,700 inmates currently using the tablets supplied and funded by Global Tel Link.

Captain Sean Stewart with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department emphasized the tablets are a privilege.

"For every dollar spent on training and education, you save $10 on incarceration fees,” Stewart said.

Stewart said inmates’ activity on the tablets is monitored around the clock through a server system.

"They can't get on the internet. They can't go to Google. They can't search anything. There's no Facebook. It's all what we allow them to have,” Stewart said.

Amanda Michika, who also works for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department noted how the tablets have proven to reduce suicidal ideations and decrease the number of fights, including inmate-on-staff altercations.

"All of the inmates that we have here are pre-sentenced inmates. They haven't been convicted of any crime. We afford them the opportunity to have the same rights they would have outside when it comes to electronics,” Michika said.

As Harms put it, the tablets provide an escape, whether its downloading music, reading books or chatting with family.

"With over 200 men in one pod, there's a lot of tension, a lot of testosterone. It means I can receive pictures from my loved ones and talk to my loved ones whenever I want,” Harms said.

Stewart estimates the county will save $100,000 per year in paper costs due to the tablets.

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