Communicating through the internet, i.e. emails, with federal prisoners in the USA has been possible for 6 years. Now, a privately held South Florida for-profit-company by the name of JPay Inc. makes this faster and (not for free but) cheaper correspondence also available to state prisoners in more than 30 states.
Even Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections has opened up to the cyberspace and its advantages for some months. “JPay Inc. provides cost free technology solutions to our nation’s prisons and jails,” according to its profile on a social network. In other words: it is “cost free” to the taxpayer because only those who make use of JPay’s service do pay the fees.
Depending on the state and facility, the offered service varies. Theoretically, a JPay customer can send money and emails to an inmate, attach photos or a 30-second videogram, chat using a video visitation, and buy phone time. Louisiana allows emails with attachments and money sending via the internet.
Prisoners now also have more often the option to submit their pro se motions to the courts electronically instead of through the US Mail. In Louisiana, authorities expect the Prisoner Electronic Filing Project to save the taxpayers US$ 50,000 a year. A new computer program connects the clerk’s office of the federal court in Baton Rouge with the Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP). Around 35% of all civil suits filed in the nine-parish Middle District of Louisiana are from LSP-inmates.
Be aware that there are laws that criminalize the use of social networks by prisoners and people released on parole! Anyone can easily and anonymously report a convicted offender who violates this law. However, many prisoners are permitted to make use of services as JPay, Access Corrections, Corrlinks, or the like.
The Hidden Cost of JPay’s Prison Email Service
May 5, 2015
By Dave Maass
“JPay […] is charging inmates and their families an unusual fee to stay in touch: the intellectual property rights to everything sent through its network.”