On Monday, the Commission granted permission to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to make another purchase of 900 tablets for the cost of $425 each which will be purchased from the money that they made out of the first 300 tablets that they had bought a few months back. If reports are to be true, the county makes about $15,000 a month through the calls and messages that the inmates and their families make. The inmates are charged 40 cents for each message, $5.99 for half an hour video call and $4.99 for using a tablet for 24 hours.
Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones was unmoved by the critics on providing tablets to inmates for entertainment. He said that there is no system where the criminals give back something to the tax payers as they are the ones who use the taxpayers’ money to live comfortably in the prisons. He has worked with the department for 36 years, and he had never seen such an excellent opportunity where the criminals are able to pay back something to the taxpayers. According to him, this was the main reason why they chose to buy tablets for the prisoners.
The prisoners cannot access the internet and social media websites through the tablets. Since the introduction of the tablet, the contact between the jail staff and the inmates has been significantly reduced, that has reduced the chances of injuries. The tablet program was introduced in 2015 and can access special programs such as Intensive Treatment Program and GED program. Inmates can also access educational and religious books. Inmates can schedule haircuts and also seek medical help if needed.
Jones said that they would never bring anything into the jail to entertain the inmates. He also clarified that making money was not their primary motive, the safety of the inmates and the jail staff was.