The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office has introduced inmate communication devices in the County Jail in an effort to provide additional services to those incarcerated at no cost to the facility.
The devices, similar to smart tablets, are equipped with a messaging app that increases an inmate’s ability to have contact with their friends or family outside of the normal visitation procedure. The messaging app is popular with users, because their communication with family is quicker than regular mail. Other agencies using similar technology report decreased stress levels in inmates who are able to maintain routine contact with their families. These decreased stress levels often increase positive interactions between other inmates and staff.
The messaging app charges inmates credits, for which every inmate receives two per week, free of charge. Additional credits are offered for 50 cents each. Sending a message costs one credit, photos costs two.
Soon, the tablets will also feature an online law research program, providing assistance in searching cases, codes, and statutes. This free online program will supplement the Legal Research provider already in place as an additional resource for inmates who want to educate themselves on the laws pertaining to their case.
The devices will also be providing self-help and educational classes. Programs offered will include Anger Management, Domestic Violence Prevention, Drug and Alcohol Awareness, and Parenting and Family Stabilization. Inmates may earn a certificate of completion that can be stored for their release. This will be a valued supplement to the current education programs offered on site.
“Research shows that incarcerated people who maintain supportive relationships with family members have better outcomes when they return to the community, especially as it relates to recidivism,” stated Jail Commander Earl Goodwyne.
The tablets are also changing the way regular mail is delivered. Beginning January 1, 2018, all non-privileged inmate postal mail must be sent to the following address to be scanned for viewing on the tablets:
CCSO – SCH
INMATE NAME-ID NUMBER
PO Box 2027
Pinellas Park, Florida 33780