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SF County Jail offers free content to prisoners

Flickr / Creative Commons

The San Francisco Sheriff's Office said Thursday it completed the launch of its tablet program, which built off a pilot program started nine years ago to enhance education opportunities for people in custody.

Mayor London Breed called the program "an important enhancement to our justice system that will help continue our reform work that eliminates the high costs of incarceration." She added that those inside jail should have access to technology resources and the chance to develop new skills while serving out their sentences.

Deputies said they saw an even greater need for tablets during the COVID-19 pandemic, when in-person visitation and programming were prohibited.

Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said he hoped the tablets would reduce recidivism and help prevent crime.

Thanks to the San Francisco Public Library, incarcerated people will be able to stream media like e-books, entertainment and music for free via hundreds of tablets. People can also view essential legal and reentry resources, file commissary orders and medical requests and submit grievances.

Other jails around the country also offer tablet services for people in jail, though at a cost. Incarcerated people's families, who are disproportionately people of color or low-income, are sent a bill for charges like three cents a minute for reading an ebook.