PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office is excited about its new partnership with Securus Technologies which will bring technology to the inmates at the Adult Detention Center.
The launch of this technology is aimed at preparing inmates with 21st century skills to help them have a successful future.
Inmates are now able to use tablets to help advance their education, and gain new skills while they are incarcerated.
PCSO is now equipped with a digital toolkit made up of the SecureView® Tablet as well as Digital Mail Center and in August, will be adding eMessaging, all from Securus Technologies.
“With tablets, inmates can stay in touch with family and keep their minds pre-occupied with educational and religious programming. We expect that it will help with behavior,” said Sheriff Mark Lamb, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, in a recent news release.
Securus offers the community tablets for free, and Sheriff Lamb says they occupy the time of the incarcerated in productive ways and allows inmates to have access to better opportunities. One example is the job search application, which is powered by Securus’ Jobview application.
“For those who want to improve themselves, it opens up that door,” he said. “Jobview gives offenders opportunities, so if they’re getting out of jail, they know how to prepare for a job as well as know who’s hiring.”
This tool is intuitive and requires no staff intervention. In addition to the job search, it also has applications that give those access to the phone, education, mental health, and the law library.
“We hope this will help inmates better their lives while they are in our custody. Our population is working with educators in our jail. They now have the opportunity to get a GED. We hope it will help with recidivism and makes them more employable. If you have a job, and you’re good at it, then you don’t have a reason to commit a crime and come back into my facility,” said Sheriff Lamb.
SecureView Tablet also offers the Make Mine program which brings premium content through applications such as eBooks, Podcasts, Music and Games to the jail population.
“We are introducing games so that they will not be disruptive and not politicking in the pod about race or gangs. So, this is another option to improve the safety of those incarcerated and of the staff,” Sheriff Lamb added.
The SecureView Tablet Make Mine program helps improve facility efficiencies by providing personal access to make phone calls and search for jobs as well as giving greater access to books, educational materials and other content. The educational offerings are the top interest of facility leadership.
The podcasts on the Make Mine tablets are another resource for inmates. Inmates can take advantage of those podcasts as a tool to manage stress, learn life skills and how being drug-free will benefit offenders.
“Some of our inmates have grown up with a mom and dad on drugs or alcohol. They’ve had it pretty rough growing up. The podcasts teach them about life decisions, not falling into the same old traps of committing crimes and doing drugs,” said Sheriff Lamb.
PCSO believes having a healthy and strong support system is a good way for offenders to get back on the right path. So being able to keep in touch with their children and loved ones is so important. The tablets have the capability to make phone calls allowing a better opportunity to stay in touch with loved ones and adds that regular communication also helps reduce stress in the jail population. In fact, studies show a link between inmates maintaining relationships with their loved ones, while incarcerated, reduces recidivism.
From a security standpoint - the threat of contraband is one reason why the PCSO looked for an alternative to regular mail. For example, Sheriff Lamb explains that fentanyl is now more prevalent with drug dealers and the cartel. Synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, which can be inhaled or airborne and put officers in danger who are hand inspecting paper mail.
“Before Securus’ Digital Mail Center, we had to visually inspect mail. Staff can overdose or even die from just the tiniest amount of this drug. Last year our staff discovered mail laced with methamphetamine. So, by scanning and electronically delivering paper mail, we protect our staff and our inmates,” Sheriff Lamb explained.
The facility still receives some paper mail such as money orders and items for the law library. Pinal County also introduced Securus’ eMessaging. This application on the SecureView Tablet offers the incarcerated another way to keep in touch with family and friends while still maintaining all existing methods of communication.
Communication with the outside world better prepares inmates for re-entry, and that is a top priority for Sheriff Lamb who feels tablets give the incarcerated opportunities to build a better future.
“We want to be the top jail in the state or even the western region. The community needs to see what we are providing for our inmates to help them get back on their feet to be the best citizens they can be,” Sheriff Lamb concludes.
The PCSO Adult Detention center houses an average of 500 inmates a day. The tablets are monitored and the inmates are aware that their activities and all forms of conversations are monitored, which is standard practice at all detention facilities.