JPay, the private corrections service, last week launched the JP5mini tablet at a price of $70. JPay currently service a little under two million prisoners in the United States of America across thirty four states and the JP5mini represents a major upgrade to the previous generation tablet, the JP4. The main new feature is that the JP5mini now includes WiFi technology, which means providing the host prison supports the service (and increasingly many more are doing so), prisoners can get online with their tablet. There are over 60,000 of the JP4 tablet in service across the company’s prisons so there is clearly a market for the device.
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As a business, JPay seem to be slowly taking over much of the electronic infrastructure for prisoners as their systems allow money to be transferred to prisoners plus email and video calling services. JPay has faced tough criticism for excessive fees and the tough terms and conditions, which until recently explained that the business assumed intellectual property rights for all communications produced by prisoners on their devices. However, JPay has defended itself: “Our mission is to educate and rehabilitate offenders to reduce recidivism. Technology plays a vital role in corrections and we’re proud to offer tablets that keep people connected and help inmates become productive members of society once released.”
As you might expect for a specialist tablet such as the JP5mini, the device is not your ordinary Android tablet in terms of design but instead demonstrates how innovative and flexible the platform is. The device has a small screen of just 4.3-inch but contains 32 GB of local storage. It offers inmates access to music, email, video calling and more. However, the JPay platform, whilst based on Android, is not the same as we might be connecting to in the wider community. Instead, music is policed and censored to remove overly violent lyrics, according to JPay’s Chief Executive Officer. The device firmware has a locked, secure bootloader to ensure inmates do not modify or replace the operating system on the device. The screening takes place at the discretion of the individual facility in question. In terms of hardware design, JPay have specified the JP5mini to take into account the security risks present with the device. The small size and clear polycarbonate design are designed such that the JP5mini cannot be used as a weapon or as a carrier to smuggle illegal items into the prison.