Sheriff provides additional details on jail tablets

Tippecanoe County Sheriff Bob Goldsmith is sharing a post providing background on the Tippecanoe County Jail's new tablet system after receiving several questions and concerns.

Posted: Jul 29, 2020 10:24 AM
Updated: Jul 29, 2020 10:27 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Tippecanoe County Sheriff Bob Goldsmith provided further information regarding a new tablet system at the Tippecanoe County Jail.

On Wednesday morning, Sheriff Bob Goldsmith posted a letter on the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, addressing some of the questions and concerns the department has received.

Goldsmith told News 18 he hopes it will help address some of the additional questions and concerns residents may have about the new system.

The post reads in part:

"Please remember that our jail is a pre-trial detention facility where a high percentage of those that are here have not been found guilty but are awaiting trial. At last check the average stay in our facility was around 9 days.

The tablets were free through an existing contract through the company that provides our phone service and inmate video visitation. There is 1 tablet per 4 inmates which means that not every inmate has a tablet. I am sure in some way your tax dollars have gone towards some component of the tablet but as far as the day to day usage of them the money that is there for that is from their commissary account. If you put money on an inmate’s commissary account they can use that money for the features on the tablet that have fee, which are approved movies, games, music, messaging (like email), etc. NO Netflix, NO Amazon Prime, NO Hulu, NO Pornhub, etc. The funds generated from that money will be used to purchase the educational package that is on the tablet.

The educational package is designed to help someone pass the GED test. Tax dollars do pay for the electricity in the building but at the beginning of the year we changed the largest energy consuming lights to LED which saves a lot of money. We are still changing cell lights to LED which is a longer process, but we are doing that. Some will say that inmates shouldn’t have tablets, televisions, books, phone calls, and visits, and more than likely I am not going to be able to change their mind. If you have been in jail or worked in a jail you know that an idol mind can be a bad thing and the tablets are a way to occupy the mind, calm someone, ease tensions, and hopefully help educate someone. We can’t force someone to learn, we can do our part to provide resources to people and hope that they take advantage of them while they are here.

The tablets also give us the opportunity to digitize things like grievances, medical requests, an updated law library, and messages about programs that are available when someone is not incarcerated. This allows us to be more efficient and track complaints.
We do offer several programs in our facility and we are looking to add more in the future, but many of those have been put on hold because of COVID-19. We have been fortunate enough to keep the virus out of our facility and it is my hope that this continues but numbers would suggest that it will eventually be in our facility.

As far as taxes are concerned, as Sheriff, I do not have any control over the tax rate, traffic lights, side walk repair, road repair, or bridge repair. I can’t raise or lower taxes, all I can do is try and find creative ways to spend the money that we are budgeted every year and as we all know, money is tight. In regard to medical care, we are required to provide the same or better medical services for someone when they are here. Many of the people in our facility suffer from addiction and have mental health issues and we are doing what we can to provide the proper service for them. We can always be doing better, and we constantly work with our medical provider to do better."

Goldsmith said he will continue to answer as many questions as possible through emails, phone calls and through social media.

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