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SCDC rolls out tablets for inmates but no one is going online

This shows the Lee Correctional Institution on Monday, April 16, 2018, in Bishopville, S.C. Multiple inmates were killed and others seriously injured amid fighting between prisoners inside the maximum security prison in South Carolina. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Plenty of comments on social media coming in after we posted a story on Facebook about South Carolina prisoners getting tablets.

One viewer said, “This is jail not a luxury cruise.”

Another comment? “Throw mad money at incarcerated criminals because they are still breaking the law while in prison.”

And they are not alone in their criticism.

So why are prisoners getting tablets?

We get a first look now at what these tablets do.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections is piloting a tablet with games, apps, even music and movies..

But just like the prisoners who use them, the internet is locked up.

According to the tablet's company, the fear that they will be able to get online is just not true.

Christopher Ditto is the Senior Vice President for Research and Development for GTL. He says, “Fear is always that someone will be able to change a setting or reconfigure them and connect to a mobile hotspot or parking lot that connect to a nearby cell tower and with these devices, that's just not possible.”

But what is possible?

This tablet may help inmates connect to family and friends in a more meaningful way.

“For the guys that are just using them because they want to lay on their bunks at night and talk to their mom, now they will be able to do that with these tablets,” says former corrections director Jon Ozmint.

So far, 140 institutions across the country are allowing prisoners to use the tablets.

South Carolina Director of Corrections Bryan Stirling hopes it will make our state prisons safer.

“My big selling point was talking to other directors and frankly other jail administrators about how much safer it made it for their officers, staff,” says Stirling. Safer because the prisoners stayed engaged, able to study, communicate and relax. They will pay for that privilege. Just like a traditional phone call their use will be charged and heavily monitored.

“I think what they do more than anything else is they fight that boredom that breeds hopelessness, by eliminating the boredom you are also eliminating the hopelessness,” says Ozmint.

There will be no charge to the state or to taxpayers.

First, the device will be placed in one female institution in Columbia and two male institutions yet to be determined.

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