Incarcerated individuals in one New York State no longer have access to electronic tablets. Many prisoners use the tablets, which were provided free of charge, to watch movies, read, send emails, do job training programs, and listen to music, according to the Gothamist.

Photo by Sanjeev Mohindra on Unsplash
Photo by Sanjeev Mohindra on Unsplash

Apparently, the contract with the tablet provider, APDS ended on June 30. It was not extended and the New York City Department of Correction has not publicly given the reason why. The 5,000 detainees in Rikers Island have now gone four months without access to their tablets. The program has been in place since 2015. Experts and prisoners say that the lack of tablets could lead to increased tensions and potential violence.

A spokesperson for the NYC Department of Correction told Gothamist that they are finalizing a deal with a new tablet provider, but there has been no update on the progress. The CEO of APDS, Harris Ferrell, said they were not invited to give a renewal presentation,

We were never invited to present to the DOC, no explanation was given to us as to why they were ending it.

With APDS, inmates had access to audio and e-books, a virtual law library, adult basic education, substance abuse therapy, games, job skill training, and movies.

To top it off, the New York State DOCCS took away prisoners' ability to receive care packages.

Advocates Demand Action At Rikers Island Jail
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Prisoners In New York State Can No Longer Receive Packages From Their Families

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has banned all incarcerated individuals in state facilities from receiving packages from their families. What initially started out as a 'pilot program' has turned into a widespread policy.

New York State has taken away prisoners' ability to receive packages sent directly from their family members and loved ones. DOCCS implemented the pilot program on July 18, 2022, which now has gone into effect at all state prisons. The DOCCS claims that it is prohibiting packages in an effort to prevent prisoners from receiving contraband,

In a continuous battle to prevent contraband from getting into DOCCS’ correctional facilities and maintaining security and safety for both staff and the incarcerated population, the Department is revising its policy concerning packages and articles received through facility package rooms.


Can Prisoners Receive Packages At All?

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Inmates can still get packages, but they must be sent through a third-party vendor, not directly from a family member,

Upon complete implementation, packages and articles will only be allowed to be received directly from vendors via U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, etc. Packages will no longer be allowed to be brought to the facility during visits or mailed directly to the facility from family or friends. Department Directive #4911 – Packages & Articles Sent to Facilities – is in the process of being updated.

Packages cannot be brought during visitation either.

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New York released a report with the most recent number of violent assaults on inmates in state prisons. There were 134 inmate deaths noted in the report, although it doesn't break down the prisons where each death occurred or who caused them. Here's a look at some of the general violent incidents reported for 2020, which is the most recent data reported by the state. Compared to 10 years ago, inmate assaults have almost doubled. In 2011 there were 666 and in 2020 there were 1,205 reported. These numbers do not include inmate assaults on staff members. Overall, the number of unusual incidents includes things like assaults, deaths, accidents, sexual misconduct, and disruptive behavior.  According to the state,
"The number of unusual incidents has increased 132% from 5,980 in 2011 to 13,870 in 2020. These higher incident numbers were largely due to increases in assaults on incarcerated individuals (+81%), assaults on staff (+86%), contraband (+130%), disruptive behavior (+372%), and staff use of weapons (+1,035%)."
  In 2020, 1,836 weapons used to cut or stab, including ice picks, razor blades, can lids and shanks were discovered in state prisons around New York.

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