The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office announced this week that it has implemented a program to allow inmates of the Cascade County Detention Center to access tablets for educational and entertainment purposes.
According to a statement from the OSCC, Sheriff Jesse Slaughter and his staff worked with Securus for a year to implement the inmate shelf education program at no cost to the taxpayer. Slaughter said there were plenty of tablets that anyone housed in the prison could use.
Prison staff spent training on the use of tablets on Tuesday, and they were available to inmates on Wednesday.
The devices contain instructional materials and videos on such things as Adult Basic Education, High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) Preparation, College Credit, Vocational Training, Life Skills, finding and preparing for employment, mental health, addiction recovery, religious resources and parenting and family classes.
If the user can afford it, they can also access movies, music, games, e-books, messages, and video and audio calls. The devices will not have internet access, Slaughter said.
As with all other communications, staff will monitor tablet usage using “officer tablets”. While prison staff are always a concern, Slaughter said the program should not interfere with normal operations at the facility.
“I don’t think it will be much different,” he said. ” We have what you need. “
The CCSO statement said the programming available on the shelves will help reduce recidivism and prepare incarcerated people for release.
Slaughter added that the program should make the installation quieter and safer because users are busy with their devices instead of causing problems. There will be set times for using the device, and Slaughter said the tablets can also be used as an incentive.
He said inmates could be required to complete an educational program before being allowed access to entertainment, and access could be withdrawn from those who are disciplined.
When asked if he was worried about damage to the devices, Slaughter said they were quite durable. The Securus contract allows for replacement, but Slaughter believes users will respect the devices because they don’t want to lose them.
“If they want to damage the tool, they will never have access to it again,” Slaughter said.
Other establishments in Montana have similar tablet programs, and Slaughter said he has had positive results. As with any privilege, tablets may be misused.
“Any tool… anything we provide to inmates in the prison that is put to good use, it can be misused,” Slaughter said. “We believe this will improve safety and security and access to the outside world. “
Criminal justice reporter Traci Rosenbaum reports on law enforcement issues for the Tribune. Contact her at [email protected] or 406-791-1490.
Follow her on Twitter @GFTrib_TRosenba.
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