- Inmates will be able to listen to music and read e-books
- New York state says the tablets will be provided free to its prisons
(CNN)Inmates in New York state prisons will soon be able to read e-books, listen to music and email family members while in prison -- all from their own tablet computers.
The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision entered into a deal with JPay that will provide all New York state prison inmates with a tablet. JPay is a company that provides technology and services that help those who are incarcerated stay connected with people outside prison, according to the company's website.
There are approximately 51,000 inmates in New York state prisons, the corrections department said.
Anthony J. Annucci, the department's acting commissioner, called the development a "groundbreaking move."
"As we continue to use technology to make our prisons safer, we will also leverage it to improve operations and interactions with family and friends by expanding services to our population," Annucci said Tuesday during a state legislative budget hearing.
Annucci said the tablets would provide inmates with "the ability to access free educational material." Prisoners will also able to file grievances with the prison directly from the tablets.
Part of a deal
The New York state government said it won't pay anything for the inmates' tablets. They are free as part of a deal between the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and JPay to start a pilot electronic financial system designed to let family and friends send money to people in prison more easily, according to the department.
The department didn't say when the tablet program would go into effect.
Other states have recently implemented similar programs. Both Georgia and Colorado have started programs that provide inmates with tablets. Georgia is also working with JPay.
In a statement announcing the "alternative learning tablets" in Georgia, officials said the tablets will allow inmates to "maintain and enhance family communications; and assist with their re-entry into society."
Connecticut recently announced plans to implement a similar program in its prisons. At a Criminal Justice Policy Advisory Commission meeting on January 25, Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple said that his agency plans to introduce tablets into the correctional system "sometime in the spring."
"These tablets are an embedded network where there is no risk of victimization with the use of Wi-Fi, but it has a lot of capability to keep people connected with technology," Semple said.