Denver, CO

Denver jail inmates to get electronic tablets

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Bored Denver jail inmates soon may occupy their time with free electronic tablets.

The Denver City Council voted Monday to amend an agreement with Securus Technologies to provide the tablets. The jail already uses Securus for virtual visits.

The Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee approved the agreement with Securus on June 22.

Tablets offer job listings, games, religion

The tablets provide access to certain apps. Giving inmates tablets offers opportunities to improve their lives with "no-cost educational, mental health, addiction recovery, personal development, job search and religious materials," explains Major Kelly Bruning in a council memo.

The tablets also allow inmates to communicate with family and friends, search for and prepare for employment before release and occupy time with paid entertainment options like music, movies and games. The tablets do not contain cameras.

Inmates can send mail for 29 cents per message. They also can look for jobs. “There will be employment-ready services on the tablets and if individual employers would like their information or materials included on the tablet there will be a process to submit that information,” according to Daria Serna, marketing and communications manager for the Denver Sheriff’s Department. “The tablets will also include a variety coursework programs which will allow individuals in custody the opportunity to obtain certificates once they are released. A large number of books will also be available.”

Virtual visits

Users must create an account with Securus. Then, they can schedule virtual visits for the next business day. "Home remote visitation costs the user $9 per visit but are unlimited," Bruning said. The tablets are not used for virtual visits, Serna said.

“Securus and DSD personnel actively monitor remote visitation for possible policy violations,” Bruning explained. “If a violation is noted, a warning message is first sent to the visitor/customer. If the violation is not corrected, the visit is terminated. Professional remote visitation is also available, under the same policy, but is not monitored by staff.”

Tablets a luxury item, some allege

Readers criticized the proposal after NewsBreak published an article on the proposal last month.

"I do not want to pay for inmates to have tablets," Rachel Cat posted. "What the hell is wrong with Colorado government? Jail isn't a luxury resort!"

More than 30 readers upvoted her comment. Others alleged inmates would use the tablets to conduct drug deals.

Denver Sheriff's Department endorses providing tablets

According to Serna, the tablets will be secure. “Security measures are currently in place for video visits, phone calls, and physical mail,” Serna said in a statement. “The use of tablets will not change these processes. The Denver Sheriff Department staff works closely with the Securus staff to provide security measures for phone/video calls and will do the same with tablets.”

Serna said the sheriff’s department researched what other counties are doing for inmate communication before deciding to go with the tablets.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

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