Inmates get tablets at Colorado prisons

A shadow is cast of a prison cell door.  (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Credit: Dan Kitwood

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A shadow is cast of a prison cell door. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Credit: Dan Kitwood

Credit: Dan Kitwood

Inmates in every Colorado prison -- 18,000 in all -- will be getting a tablet they can keep with them in their cell.

The electronic device won’t have internet access but will allow inmates the ability to make phone calls, send emails and communicate with jail staff.

The $800,000 program also adds video monitors in prisons so inmates can have video visits with family and friends, according to KDVR.

Maintaining or building family ties is important because 99 percent of the state’s inmates will be released one day, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

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"Video visiting assists in creating a foundation of family support and reunification providing opportunities for successful re-entry back into society with a solid support system," the department said in a statement. "Video visiting provides the ability for face-to-face contact for those unable to visit as well as additional visiting time to strengthen family ties."

Inmates and their families are charged for the phone calls, emails, video chats and other uses. Phone calls are 12 cents a minute; emails are 25 cents each; and a 10-minute video call is $4 or $10 for 25 minutes.

Inmates will eventually be able to download music and games too. While the tablets are free to inmates, they have to pay a $200 replacement cost if they break it.

Inmates are hopeful the upgrades help them keep in touch with loved ones.

Amanda Hall, an inmate serving time for cashing bad checks, has a 3-year-old daughter living in Montana who she can now keep in touch with.

"It's more about reunification and building bonds back with the people impacted through our crimes, not necessarily our victims but our families our children," Hall,45, told KDVR. "I don't think it's something that society needs to be afraid of because we don't have all this access that they think we have."

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