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1000 plus SF inmates to get computer tablets

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POSTED October 22, 2014 7:34 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Some San Francisco jail inmates were expected to get computer tablets Wednesday to do homework, read novels and prepare for their criminal cases.

The tablets were to be distributed to more than 100 inmates as part of a two-year, $275,000 pilot program.

The inmates will only be able to access four secure websites, including a law library. They will also have access to a calculator, an education application and an education curriculum developed by the jail’s Five Keys Charter School.

The tablets will be remotely monitored and can be easily disabled.

“We hope this will help bridge the digital divide and provide inmates access to technology that every elementary, middle and high school student already has, but has been out of reach for those forgotten by society,” said Steve Good, the charter school’s executive director.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said the tablets could help make sure inmates don’t return to jail.

“This is really cutting edge,” he told a group of sheriff’s deputies and charter school teachers receiving tablet training Tuesday. “Historically, there’s been resistance, if not prohibitions, on allowing technology into the living quarters of inmates.”

New York-based American Prison Data Systems developed the tablets. The company also provides the devices to juvenile jails in Kansas and Indiana and an adult prison system in Maryland, CEO Chris Grewe said.

The pilot program is being funded by a $75,000 grant from the California Wellness Foundation, $75,000 from the city’s Adult Probation Department and $125,000 from Five Keys Charter School, Good said.

Most of the 125 tablets will be distributed to men and women already enrolled in Five Keys programs, and the inmates will get to keep them for most of the day.


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