Texas Jails Providing E-Tablets to Inmates

Travis County's sheriff is again drawing criticism, this time for providing electronic tablets to jail inmates.  But, the practice is more common than you think.

Critics argue “Sanctuary Sally” Hernandez and other sheriffs are coddling inmates and treating county jails as more of a resort than a place for punishment.  But one Houston area sheriff says he fully supports tablets for inmates.

“There's inspirational-type music, there is stress management techniques on these tablets and you can actually make a phone call on the tablet as well,” says Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls.  “You're not surfing the Internet and you're not on Facebook on these tablets.”

Nehls says its all in an effort to rehabilitate inmates so they don't come back.

“The public has got to know that 99.9 percent of them are going to walk out the door one day, and the last thing I want them to do is to be breaking back into our homes, using drugs or whatever else,” he says.

The tablets occupy an inmate's time, giving them less reason to attack a guard or cause other trouble.

“There are some that would probably ask why don't you just give them the bread and water and let them rot in their cell?  But we're providing educational opportunities, welding classes and HVAC classes. If you want to complete your GED, we're teaching computer classes.”

The tablets also give inmates access to legal research, electronic grievance forms and information such as “medical and psychiatric requests.”

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