ELLSWORTH, Maine — A new program coming to the Hancock County Jail is pretty unique to Maine -- and it's designed to enhance safety at the facility.
Hancock County officials are hoping to have the Securus tablet program implemented at the jail by March or April. The demand around the country for this product is growing, which is why even though jail administrators voted unanimously to adopt the program, it won't be up and running for another couple of months.
Securus tablets, which inmates can rent for five dollars a month, will make some jail work paperless, like medical requests, filings of grievances, a law library, and the inmate handbook. The devices will also give inmates something to do, by offering music and media at a small fee and giving inmates the ability to communicate with family members who are outside of jail from their own cell.
Since Securus pays for the tablets, the program doesn't cost anything to taxpayers. Any money generated within the jail by the inmates will then go to back to inmate programs.
Hancock County jail administrators stress that a key reason they're interested in adopting this program is that it will likely enhance security in the jail, by keeping inmates occupied and giving them something to do. For example, Androscoggin County Jail has already implemented the Securus tablet program, and officials say it has quieted the facility and resulted in fewer arguments and problems.
Additionally, the monitored tablets will not allow inmates to access the Internet -- and every inmate will have a PIN number, so officials can shut down individual tablets at any time.
Sheriff Scott Kane with Hancock County says he is looking forward to bringing this program to the inmates at the jail.
"We don't have a lot of other services that we can offer. Yes, we have programs in here, but there are not a lot of other things that they can access while they're in here," Kane explained to NEWS CENTER Maine. "If you're sentenced here for, say, six months -- think of yourself being here for six months, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with not a lot to do. So this gives them the opportunity to do something positive."
Hancock County Jail will be one of the first facilities in the state to adopt the program. Kane says that Piscataquis County is also considering it.