ELLSWORTH — Hancock County Jail inmates will be able to access music, games, movies and other activities via computer tablets as early as this April. The move is seen as a way to keep them engaged ad cut down on paper waste.
The Hancock County Commissioners Tuesday signed an agreement for the personal tablets with Securus Technology, which operates the video visitation program at the jail.
The vote was unanimous.
“It’s another means of communication,” Jail Administrator Timothy Richardson told the board.
Richardson said the tablets will also reduce paper in the jail as inmate handbooks and request forms will be put on the tablets.
The tablets will be free for inmates to use, however sending and receiving emails will cost .50 cents each, Richardson said.
“I’m curious about how adept they will be at using this?” said Clark.
“Instead of two years with no technology they’ll stay up to date,” Richardson replied.
“Probably every one of them has an iPhone,” Clark mused.
“Are we putting all our eggs in one basket to find phones and tablets in one company,” asked Clark.
“Pretty much every jail in the state is going to be signing this contract,” Richardson said.
Androscoggin County Jail began using the tablets six months ago.
“The tablets have been great,” said Androscoggin County Maj. Jeff Schute. “The inmates enjoy them. They’re a management tool as well for behavior.”
“They’re fairly small and they’re see-through,” Schute said. That way, they can’t be used to hide contraband.
Asked if the tablets could be used as weapons — Schute said “no more than a food tray.”
Androscoggin provides religious and education programs on the tablets free for everyone to use.
Richardson said inmates would have access to a law library. They also can download movies, games and music.
If a tablet gets broken, Securus replaces it at no cost to the jail, the administrator said.
“There’s no question in my mind this will be a worthwhile program,” said Commissioner Antonio Blasi.
Richardson said the program would likely start in April.