MIDDLETON -- The Essex County Sheriff’s Department recently launched a new program, providing each inmate at their Middleton facility with a wireless tablet to not only improve communication with family, loved ones, and attorneys, but also enhancing their abilities to maximize opportunities for rehabilitation, programming, and educational improvements. The tablets are provided at no cost to the inmate or the taxpayer.
Sheriff Kevin Coppinger initiated planning for the tablets several months ago but put together an ambitious schedule to expedite its start date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Middleton facility was entirely rewired in a matter of weeks to accommodate the 900 tablets ready for deployment. The equipment will also be distributed to the Essex County Pre-Release Center in Lawrence and the Women in Transition Center in Salisbury at a later date. In the months to come, the tablet program will be followed by video visitation and electronic mail, with messaging.
“When this pandemic hit, we were forced to close our facility to the public and we knew we needed to accelerate this project for the sake of both the incarcerated and their families” Sheriff Coppinger said. “These tablets are a valuable teaching tool for our population, allowing us to provide programming to help our residents become more thoughtful, productive citizens upon their release.”
While the tablets can be used as a telephone, another important feature of the units is that the user receives educational and administrative programming from the department, much of which is geared towards their successful re-entry back into the communities. Correctionally acceptable entertainment and other services may be purchased by inmates through their phone accounts. People have to add money to the phone accounts for the tablet use. The two-tier system, free vs. optional, ensures no inmate is left out and teaches responsible decision making. All funds realized from the program are reinvested into inmate education, programming, and cover operational costs of the system, all reducing further burden on the taxpayer.
System equipment and management services are provided at no cost by Securus Technologies, Inc. The Sheriff’s Department oversees the security of the program.