Inmates at Charlotte County Jail pay to message family, friends on new tablet

Inmates at the Charlotte County Jail can use communication devices, such as smart tablets, to communicate instantly with family and friends.

A messaging app on the smart tablet allows inmates like Nicole Hoffenkamp to speak with loved ones outside of the county jail’s normal visitation procedures.

“I’m constantly refreshing it to see if I have new messages,” Hoffenkamp said.

The inmates have two free credits a week and additional credits would cost 50 cents each, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. Sending a message would cost one credit while photos would cost two credits.

“We do not pay a dime for any of these devices,” Charlotte County Jail Capt. Melissa Turney said. “The company provides them for free.”

MORE: Charlotte County jail introduces inmates to new communication tablets

The smart tablets also allow inmates to do legal research and take a number of classes for rehabilitation.

“They can go on and do self-help, anger management, parenting classes online,” Turney said. “They can even get a certificate.”

Inmates are restricted as to who they can message, according to Turney. Similar to a collect call, the person receiving the message would have to accept it.

“You can’t go watch movies or surf the web or fun stuff like that,” Hoffenkamp said.

Reports show similar devices decrease stress levels in inmates, CCSO said.