Company providing inmates access to education, tablets

People don’t often wind up in the Warren County Jail without cause.

But a new educational option provided to inmates has given those looking to better their lives a chance to do so.

And jail staff want to expand the program.

Provided through the company Edovo, the company leases tablets to the jail that provide an avenue for inmates to complete a wide variety of coursework.

The cost is $2.50 per tablet per day but commissary funds could be used since it is an inmate benefit, leaving no direct cost to the county.

Warden Jon Collins told the Prison Board on Tuesday that the system is online and “is absolutely fantastic. It goes further than we anticipated.”

He said the original plan was to only open the offering to inmates who had already been sentenced.

“There are so many programs on there that unsentenced inmates can benefit from,” Collins explained, including anger management and parenting classes. “(There are) so many programs they can complete prior to that day of sentencing.”

Collins said that they could include that information in what they submit to the court prior to sentencing and that the inmates could “complete classes that directly impact” their sentence.

He said they started the program with 20 tablets “and wouldn’t mind probably tripling that number.”

The tablets are currently in each housing unit for one week before they rotate to another housing unit. They’re available to the inmates 10 hours per day.

“There’s a lot they can accomplish that week,” he said. While the original idea was that they could earn entertainment time, Collins said that there is “so much in the education, they’re going to utilize these tablets to benefit themselves.”

Collins told the board that the cost could be reduced further – down to $1 per tablet per day – if they were to add Edovo’s text messaging service, which would allow inmates to text the same 10 people that they are approved to contact through the jail’s phone system. Just like the calls, all of the texts would be recorded and available to be reviewed by jail staff.

“Edovo is huge. Across the nation, they are probably the leader in inmate tablets,” Collins said. “I think it’s a behavioral tool. If they are putting in time on tablets… it’s time they’re not causing issues within the facility…. It’s an incentive to maintain good behavior.”

“Sounds like a huge incentive,” District Attorney Rob Greene said.

Barr said Edovo has said they would be willing to develop programs the county – the DA or the courts – wish were available to further enhance the functionality.

“It’s a great system,” Collins said. “So far, the inmates absolutely love it.”