by Ed Lyon
Until February 18, 2020, it cost pre- and post-trial detainees in the Dallas County, Texas jails .24¢ per minute to speak to their families on the phone. Urged by criminal justice reform groups and the citizenry, the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to forgo any and all profit-sharing in the jail’s phone system, operated by Carrollton, Texas-based Securus Technologies, in exchange for a reduction in calling costs to .01¢ per minute. This move will cost the county $2.4 million in yearly revenue.
Another positive change will be making electronic tablets available to the county jail’s population. It will cost detainees $5 per month to rent a tablet with educational programming included.
Movies, music and video games will be available for 99¢ to $12.99 per item. Incoming e-mail messages will be free. It will cost 24¢ for a prisoner to send responses.
Sheriff Marian Brown was initially worried about tablet monitoring and usage capabilities. Securus Technologies assuaged Brown’s trepidations, assuring her the only outreach possible will be to the ultra-secure Securus intranet — and then only when the tablets are docked at stations located outside of the prisoners’ cells overnight.
Sheriff Brown has opted for a positive, common sense approach to e-tablet introduction in her jails.
Using a “slow roll out,” she will use the ‘carrot and stick’ method for access to the privilege. She stated, “You know you have to behave yourself if you’re going to use the tablet. If you’re not behaving yourself, then of course you don’t get the tablet.”
Sheriff Brown, welcome to the 21st century!
Sources: dallasnews.com, dallasobserver.com
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