New Illinois Law Permits Electronic Tablet Use by Inmates for Good Behavior
At any given time, there are about 1.5 million adults behind bars in American jails, prisons, and other correctional facilities. In Illinois alone, correction centers house an average of about 46,000 men and women on an average day. While there will always be concerns about wrongful convictions and widespread problems in the criminal justice system , the vast majority of prison inmates are serving time for crimes they actually committed. For decades, experts and sociologists have been looking for ways to decrease the chances of recidivism—returning to a life of crime—when an inmate is released. That was also the motivation behind the Illinois legislature’s decision to pass a bill this past August that allows inmates access to electronic tablets as a reward for good behavior.
Rewarding Inmates With Privileges
House Bill 3712 was signed into law by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on August 18, 2017. The measure went into effect on January 1 and specifically amended the state’s Unified Code of Corrections to “provide educational and visitation opportunities to” inmates via “content-controlled tablets.” Temporary access to such tablets—such as an iPad, Surface, or similar device—“may be provided as a privilege to [inmates] to induce or reward compliance.” In other words, inmates can earn tablet time with good behavior.
The law also specifies that the tablets in question will not have unlimited use of the internet or social media applications. Instead, their use will be limited to educational purposes and apps that facilitate electronic visitation similar to Skype or FaceTime.
Providing educational opportunities has long been a goal in many correctional facilities across the country, but the biggest advantage could possibly be realized through increased electronic visitation. Studies have consistently shown—including several large-scale research projects—that inmates with visitation privileges are up to 25 percent less likely to end up back in prison after their release. Some studies found that even a single visit may have a fairly dramatic impact on the likelihood of recidivism.
Experts suggest that contact with loved ones and the outside world while in prison can be a substantial incentive for inmates to make better choices following their release. Visitation, in many cases, suggests a support system on which the individual can rely as he or she transitions back to the “real world.”
Facing Criminal Charges?
Unfortunately, even the best people can be caught up in allegations of criminal activity. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges and possible jail time, you need a lawyer who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation today. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.