Soon, some inmates in Florida will get access to email. Sheriff Christ Nocco has created a SmartJailMail system that will allow inmates to send and receive mail, but only from authorized mail recipients. There are 77 different mail kiosks being set up in the jail housing units, which is where the cells are located, that will allow inmates to log in and read and send emails, but only to those people who have an account already. Although those on the outside will be able to send photographs and emails through the system, the inmates themselves will only be able to send email, not photographs of themselves.
Just like the regular mail system, each email will be checked by jail staff to make sure that they are not making escape plans or conducting other criminal activity. However, this email comes at a high price. Each email sent will cost fifty cents and each photo that is included will cost a dollar. Inmates will also have access to other computer functions through the kiosks. They will for example, be able to schedule meeting with the jail chaplain, be able to use the library services that are provided there, and be able to use the kiosk to participate in and organize social service programs.
This may not seem like that giant of a leap, with email having been the standard of communication for more than a decade, but it is a big step for correctional facilities, who historically, have not allowed inmates access to any internet connection whatsoever, because of the fear of hacking or unauthorized communications or other security risks. However, now inmates can communicate with loved ones easier, at a price. It will be interesting to see if other jails and prisons follow suit.