The sheriff of Albany County is responding to critics of a program that lets inmates talk and text, saying it's an important source of revenue. Sheriff Craig Apple says this program allows him to “run the jail like we run a business.”
So how does it work and who pays for the cost of these ‘upgrades’? The program allows the family of an inmate to set up an account for them to pay for access to tablets.
This account also allows inmates to order upgraded meals like burgers and fries. Although, complaints continue to pour in, Sheriff Apple says the income from this program will help alleviate the $42 million cost to taxpayers of running the jail.
The question of security is a valid concern when it comes to who the inmates can contact from jail with this program. Sheriff Apple says Telmate, the company in charge of the tablet software, vets the people inmates want to contact, before any contact occurs. Telmate also monitors and stores data on the inmates’ communications, providing the information to investigators.
However, most people were angered just by the thought of inmates enjoying themselves and using apps to play games. To that the sheriff responded, “The days of the 70’s of just locking somebody down and cutting them off from the world are over.”