Inmates with good behavior at the Travis County Jail could get more access to the outside world in the form of technology, KVUE Defender and Austin-American Statesman Reporter Tony Plohetski confirmed exclusively with the county Thursday.
Travis County officials said they have plans to bring 2,400 electronic tablets inside the jail to reward inmates and help them rehab their lives.
The iPad-like devices will give inmates the ability to conduct job searches, listen to podcasts, music, e-books and even play games.
But they are limited in their capacities; inmates won't have access to the internet. The major who oversees the jail said if they were to find an inmate accessing anything inappropriate, they would simply take them away.
Eventually, inmates may also be able to use them to make phone calls — all from the comfort of their cell. The official who oversees the county jail says the tablets will inspire inmates to follow the rules.
"Not everybody likes following the rules, and sometimes you have to prod them in the right direction," Maj. Wes Priddy said.
However, some county officials, including the top criminal judge feel Travis County might not be the correct fit for the technology.
State District Judge Brenda Kennedy said she only learned of the plans after hearing courthouse deputies talking about them. She said she was shocked and wondered, "whose idea it was and why."
The county isn't paying anything for the devices. The company Securus Technology Inc. is supplying them as part of the contract to provide telephone services for inmates
Officials say they don't yet have a timeline for when they will begin handing out the tablets.