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E-mail is coming to Ohio prisons

posted 1/23/2010 11:00:56 PM |
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Beginning Feb. 23, family and friends of inmates at Madison Correctional Institution in London will be able to buy an online "package" that will allow them to send from three to 60 e-mail messages each month. Inmates will be able to send the same number of responses.

The e-mail system, to be operated under contract with JPay Inc. of Miami at no cost to the state, will expand to all 31 Ohio prisons within a month after the system kicks off at Madison, explained Julie Walburn, spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

"We have been studying this for quite a while," Walburn said. "We very strongly believe that contact with friends and family, community involvement, helps inmates stay engaged and prepares them for re-entry to the community."

Walburn said the electronic system is expected to dramatically reduce the 14.7 million pieces of mail flowing in and out of state prisons and might save money. There were 9.2 million letters and cards sent to inmates last year, with about 5.5 million letters mailed out.

Here's how it will work:

Family and friends of inmates will use a computer to access {email address removed}.com. They will be required to register and sign up for a monthly package, ranging from $1 for three incoming and three outgoing messages to $12 a month for 60 e-mails.

E-mail sent by family members will be received at the prison where the inmate is housed. There, it will be printed and delivered to the inmate along with a one-page response sheet for a handwritten reply.

The inmate's reply then will be scanned, making an electronic copy, which will be sent to the family or friend's e-mail account registered at JPay.

Walburn stressed that inmates will not have access to the Internet. Initially, they will be able to send only handwritten replies, although JPay eventually will install kiosks in prisons where inmates can type their e-mail reply, she said. Even then, however, they will be able to respond only to someone who sent them an e-mail.

Walburn said prison officials think e-mail will relieve pressure on staff members now handling mail and help to cut down on contraband, which often comes in via mail.

E-mail senders will be able to include electronic attachments, such as photos, but they will be subject to the same restrictions as regular mail: no nude pictures or pornography.

Walburn said the e-mail network can be accessed from any computer, including those available at public libraries and other locations.

L.D. Hay, marketing director for JPay, said the company has been around since 2002 and connects with about 1 million inmates housed in prison systems in 25 states and several large county jails. The company also offers money transfers and a video-conferencing service that allows family members to "visit" their loved ones in prison from their own home. Those features are not part of the Ohio contract.

Ohio will become the 13th state, along with Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, to use the e-mail system.

Hay said security is maintained through a controlled, closed system that does not allow inmates direct access to the Internet at any point.

By A. Johnson
The Columbus Dispatch


Not long ago there was a blog by Megan about whether inmates have a right to internet access. I was against it, but doing it this way I have no problem with.

Any thoughts?

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post a comment!


Jan 23 @ 11:06PM  
I believe the blog I did about the emails, that they are somehow paid for by the inmates. It also gives me an option to load funds as well. But, I don't have to.

Jan 23 @ 11:16PM  
That will be easier on the families rather than the very expensive collect calls the inmates can make now. I had one friend who lost her phone after her brother called her a couple times every week and she ended up with a $600 phone bill. Instead of going with the company who charged the least, they went with MCI (who raised their rates for these calls) at this prison. They were making a fortune off the families.

Jan 24 @ 12:24AM  
As long as they can only reply to those who have written to them..........and only as long as they dont have internet access, and only if the state doesn't have to pay more for this I say go for it...........i agree with RJ that the phone bills from prisoners can break families..........but I think there needs to be some security procedures in place......JMO

Jan 24 @ 12:30AM  
As much as I hate the fact that prisoners get more opportunities to socialize with the outside world than they deserve, I do think this is a good law.

Much of the drug paraphrenialia and weapons contraband within the prison system comes thru via mail. If this can cut down on the manpower required to sort through this mail, good for Ohio.

Only drawback is that this gives inmates speedier access to their criminal lives on the outside....But instead of prison wardens going thru mail piecemeal, they can just look at emails which carry no contraband.

Jan 24 @ 1:03AM  
and as always OHIO figured out how to make money at it..and i'm sure will give terrible service ......

Much of the drug paraphrenialia and weapons contraband within the prison system comes thru via mail. If this can cut down on the manpower required to sort through this mail, good for Ohio.

sry your wrong...most of it is CARRIED in ..and some of that is carried by the gaurds. Mail is the last way it gets in.....they search it too well and have cut back on almost anything you can send IN in the first place......just so yano

btw that is NOT a guess...its FACT

Jan 24 @ 1:56AM  
Awesome. Now the gang presidents will have an easier time coding messages so they can run their gangs from the inside. Nothing like making prison time easier and more fun. And men (or women) in prison have nothing but time to figure out how to manipulate whatever new system comes along.


Jan 24 @ 2:39AM  
Ynot - You could be very right. I have not researched the issue throughly. I stated my belief based on a few discovery

Jan 25 @ 4:20AM  
I'm fine with this as long as there is strict supervision.

Feb 2 @ 6:47AM  
Having been to jail, the collect calls are the most expensive I've ever made. It's going to bring it pros and cons, just like everything else.

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E-mail is coming to Ohio prisons