Tablets and Telephone Calls

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has partnered with, the California Department of Technology (CDT), to enter into a contract with ViaPath Technologies (formerly Global Tel*Link Corporation, or GTL) to enhance communications, technology access, and family connections for the incarcerated population in state prisons.

Man wearing mask uses tablet

The contract aims to increase access to new and existing services and innovative rehabilitative opportunities. This six-year contract covers many aspects of communications technology, including expanding access to tablets and kiosks for the entire incarcerated population and greatly reducing phone rates. 

The enhanced communication project aims to strengthen the bonds between the incarcerated population with their families and communities. Jails and prisons across the US are seeing the benefits of utilizing electronic devices as they provide incarcerated individuals access to rehabilitative program content, important departmental updates, and positive leisure-time activities, such as knowledge-based games and books. These devices also allow these activities to be tracked and monitored for safety and security. 

Tablets will be provided at no cost to families or incarcerated people, although certain premium features, such as streaming music services, may incur charges. New tablet services will be funded through the incarcerated individual’s Trust Fund. Family and friends can make deposits to Trust Fund accounts through ConnectNetwork, ViaPath Technologies’ one-stop resource for assisting family and friends in connecting and communicating with their incarcerated loved ones. To learn more about ConnectNetwork and how to get started, please visit: web.connectnetwork.com/get-started-cdcr.

Learn more about sending e-messages to loved ones.

Learn more about photo and video attachments.

GTL Tablet (angled view)

Tablet

GTL Megatron Kiosk (angled view)

Kiosk

Why is the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) implementing a statewide tablet program?

It is important to maintain relationships during incarceration. Visits, calls, and letters are a great way to stay connected. Even before COVID-19, CDCR was working to improve technology and communication, including a pilot program at five prisons in 2018 that provided tablets and secure email access to eligible people. People in this program and their loved ones have reported they appreciated the ability to stay connected, in addition to having in-cell access to eBooks, legal materials, and entertainment.

Who will get a tablet?

ViaPath will provide an Inspire tablet for every person incarcerated in CDCR’s adult institutions. These tablets are designed for use in correctional settings. Granting or denying access to any tablet services will be in accordance with CDCR’s regulations (California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, Sections 3006 Contraband or 3135 Disturbing or Offensive Correspondence). Eligibility criteria are being created, including how tablets will be used in restricted housing. Tablets may be used in cells/dormitories. Institutions will develop site-specific rules as the tablets are rolled out.

Tablets began distribution on a phased basis in summer 2021. The tablets were first given to people incarcerated at Valley State Prison (VSP) in Chowchilla, which is home to California’s first Youth Offender Rehabilitative Community (YORC). YORC aims to assist people who began their incarceration as young adults by providing increased access to educational, therapeutic and vocational opportunities. YORC are designed to cluster such individuals together at select adult institutions to encourage positive programming targeted to their specific needs.

The timeline for distribution of tablets to all adult institutions and fire camps is being established with the vendor and CDCR’s Enterprise Information Services (EIS) division. The timeline will be updated regularly.

TABLET INSTITUTION DEPLOYMENT DATES

As of July 1, 2022. Schedule subject to change

Tablets active

  • Valley State Prison (VSP) –August 2021
  • Ironwood State Prison (ISP) – December 2021
  • Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP)-January 2022
  • Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP)-March 2022
  • California State Prison, Solano (SOL)-April 2022
  • Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)-July 2022
  • California Institution for Women (CIW)-July 2022
  • High Desert State Prison (HDSP)-July 2022
  • Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP)-July 2022
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility (SATF)-July 2022

Fall 2022

  • Avenal State Prison (ASP)
  • Centinela State Prison (CEN)
  • California State Prison-Los Angeles County (LAC)
  • Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP)
  • California State Prison-Sacramento (SAC)
  • California Correctional Institution (CCI)
  • California Institution for Men (CIM)
  • Folsom State Prison (FSP)
  • Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF)

Coming in 2023

  • California City Correctional Facility (CAC)
  • Calipatria State Prison (CAL)
  • California Correctional Center (CCC)
  • California Health Care Facility (CHCF)
  • California Men’s Colony (CMC)
  • California Medical Facility (CMF)
  • California State Prison-Corcoran (COR)
  • California Rehabilitation Center (CRC)
  • Correctional Training Facility (CTF)
  • North Kern State Prison (NKSP)
  • Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)
  • Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD)
  • Sierra Conservation Center (SCC)
  • San Quentin State Prison (SQSP)
  • Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP)
  • Wasco State Prison (WSP)
  • Conservation Camps

My loved one had a tablet as part of the pilot. What happens to it now?

If your loved one was provided a tablet by CDCR, it will be returned to CDCR when the VPT tablets are activated at their institution. From July 1 to July 31, the pilot tablets will be collected from users at the pilot institutions. Services on the pilot tablets will end on July 1 and the tablets will no longer be usable. CDCR recognizes that users and their friends and family have received photos, videos and messages, and have paid for some downloaded content. JPay/Securus and VPT will work together to transfer data related to e-messages, photos and video messages.

Incarcerated people are allowed to have two tablets in their possession during this limited transition period. Both purchased and loaned tablets will be collected for data transfer. Using a formal request process, incarcerated persons with a loaned tablet will have the purchased content (games, music, etc.) transferred to a thumb drive and sent to a designated person on the outside. Purchased tablets will be unlocked and sent to a designated person on the outside.

Please contact JPay Customer Support regarding refunds. They can be reached at (800) 574-5729, or support@jpay.com.

What is included in this contract?

This six-year contract is with ViaPath Technologies, who is responsible for providing all tablets, infrastructure, technical support and technology updates. Many features are free to users, including the Department Operations Manual (DOM), Health Care Department Operations Manual (HCDOM), Title 15, PREA, Policies and Regulations, internal handbooks, newspapers, and podcasts, library eBooks, audiobooks, games, law library materials, religious materials, mental and physical health materials, and rehabilitative content. Users may purchase some services, such as approved movies, news and sports feeds, or premium music.

Users will have the ability to securely send and receive email, with incoming and outgoing messages closely monitored. Users may send and receive pre-approved images, stickers, and e-cards, and can receive short video clips and photos from family and friends (videos/photos may not be sent, only received).

Have other correctional systems implemented tablet programs?

Technology in prisons and jails in the United States has advanced greatly. At least 30 states have started similar tablet programs to provide secure access to rehabilitative programs, email, and entertainment. Officials report many benefits, including the ability to monitor use and quickly address security concerns. In addition, music, movies, games and recreational books are widely enjoyed by incarcerated people. Tablets also allow people in prison to learn about technology they may not have ever experienced.

Do the tablets allow video?

Yes. Users may receive, but not send, video clips from approved contacts. Videos will be reviewed by institutional staff for safety and security concerns. Video calls are also available on the tablets in approved areas within each housing area. Users will sign up for 15-minute blocks of time to utilize the docking station required to access the video call functionality on the tablets. Additionally, users can sign up to use the available kiosks to make telephone or video calls during institution-approved hours. At this time, the free Webex video visiting system remains in place at most institutions. However, tablets will be available for those who would like to make video calls in a different location, or to offset limited video visiting availability in visiting rooms. Video calls cost $0.20  per minute.

How else is CDCR expanding connections to family and community?

In addition to tablets, this contract greatly lowers the cost for telephone calls, a priority of CDCR to increase access to communication with loved ones. The new rates were implemented in March 2021. Every incarcerated person is also given 15 minutes of free telephone calls and 15 minutes of free video calls every two weeks. These minutes do not have to be used at the same time, and will reset every 14 days.

The Governor’s 2021-22 Budget made available $12 million to expand communications services statewide. By the end of September 2021, every incarcerated person received 75 minutes of free telephone calls every two weeks using either the institutional phones or the tablets when available. These minutes reset every two weeks and do not roll over. Fifteen minutes are provided by ViaPath Technologies, while the additional 60 are provided by CDCR as part of our commitment to increasing connection with loved ones and communities.

Additionally, people with ViaPath Technologies tablets are able to send 20 free electronic messages each week.  The first 5 messages are provided by ViaPath Technologies, while the additional 15 are provided by CDCR.

How do individuals use the tablets?

Instructions for the tablets are available on the tablets and kiosks, including “Making an Outgoing Video Call,” “Tablet Instruction Basics,” “Video Calling Setting up Contacts,” and others. Additional training documentation is provided to the Warden and staff members at every institution prior to deployment. ViaPath Technologies train staff on how to monitor the tablets. They will also show users how to access the training materials.  In addition, how-to videos play on institutional television for the weeks leading up to deployment and instructions are posted in each housing unit. ADA Inmate Workers and ADA Staff are trained to assist any incarcerated person with using the accessible settings on the tablets. These settings are not restricted to users with a documented need, but available to any user.

Are the tablets secure?

Yes. Each tablet is encrypted and all contents are monitored by institutional staff, who can immediately investigate any improper usage. The tablets are not web browsers and do not have internet access. Users may only access approved programs and content using tablets and kiosks in their housing units. CDCR can monitor, record, and store communications. E-messages will be reviewed by ViaPath Technologies for inappropriate content, and staff will be alerted to any content for further review before it is sent to the intended recipient. All photos and video messages are reviewed, which may result in a short delay. Authorized staff will have the ability to turn off any of the services for any user or group of users at any time if there are safety or security concerns.

What materials are available on the tablets?

The tablets provide a wealth of informational materials to enhance the well-being of the incarcerated population and their connection to their loved ones and communities through improved communications and access to resources. We are committed to adding new and increasingly interesting and relevant materials each month.

Free services include:

  • Learn – Khan Academy and OpenStaxx Textbooks
  • Merriam Webster Dictionary
  • Calculator
  • Calm – guided meditations, sleep aids, and soothing sounds
  • BibleGateway.com
  • Quran
  • Sundar Gutka
  • Religious library
  • Audiobooks, e-books, magazines
  • Games
  • Radio
  • CDCR podcasts
  • Physical and mental health materials
  • DOM/HCDOM/Title 15/ PREA/ Policies and Regulations
  • ADA compliance
  • Prison Law Office resource handbook
  • Mule Creek State Prison newspaper
  • Suicide prevention documents/video
  • Mental health books
  • Parolee handbook

Paid services include:

  • Premium movies (by subscription)
  • Premium music (by subscription)
  • Internet radio (by subscription)
  • Audiobooks, e-books, magazines
  • Podcasts

Institutions will develop their own schedules and time limits for tablet and kiosk use as they are rolled out. Content is provided over a secure wireless network. Connecting to the kiosk is not needed, as it was at pilot sites.

Can individuals with disabilities use the tablets?

We are committed to improving upon the communication services provided to accommodate hearing and visually impaired users. Incarcerated persons should contact their ADA Coordinators or ADA incarcerated workers for assistance with their tablet settings.

What if there are technical problems with my loved one’s tablet?

As new technology is introduced into institutions, there may be technical issues that need to be worked out. We understand this is frustrating for users and their family and friends, and appreciate your patience as we work to address any concerns.

Tablet users may submit a Tablet Performance Form to ViaPath via the tablet or kiosk. In the unexpected instance that the tablet and kiosk become unusable, the user should alert a staff member immediately.

For the first 30 days after tablets are activated at an institution, ViaPath engineers will monitor and tune signals to provide the best coverage. During this time, users may experience intermittent signal loss, which could result in dropped calls or loss of connectivity. When submitting Tablet Performance Forms to ViaPath, users should provide notes about what they are experiencing so ViaPath can best resolve the issue. Only one form should be submitted per issue, and the ViaPath team will respond within three business days.

What is the cost of emails and video calls?

  • Telephone calls (Nationwide): $0.025 per minute
  • Telephone calls (International): $0.07 per minute
  • Video Calls: $0.20 per minute
  • E-messages (inbound/outbound): $0.05
  • Video Message (inbound only): $0.05
  • E-Card: $0.05
  • Photos (inbound only): $0.05
Communications ServiceRates
Telephone calls (nationwide)$0.025 per minute
Telephone calls (international)$0.07 per minute
Video calls$0.20 per minute
E-messages (inbound/outbound)$0.05
Print services$0.05 (black and white)/$0.25 (color)
Video Message (inbound only)$0.05
E-Card$0.05
Photos (inbound only)$0.05
E-BooksFree
GamesFree
Premium music$7.99/month
Internet radio$5.49/month
Premium movies$1.99/month
Premium podcasts$2.49/month
CDCR podcastsFree
Premium audiobooks$5.49/month
Streaming news and sports$0.75/month

Staff who led the effort to bring tablets to CDCR statewide share their insights on this important program in this Inside CDCR Q&A.

In addition to the tablet program, the ViaPath Technologies contract greatly reduces telephone rates for all incarcerated adults and their loved ones.

Click here for information.

*Cost for 15-minute phone call

YearLocal (same area code)InterLATA (within California)Interstate (within US)International
2021-futureAdult: $0.375
Youth: $0
Adult: $0.375
Youth: $0
Adult: $0.375
Youth: $0
$1.05
2020-2021Adult: $1.14
Youth: $0
Adult: $1.14
Youth: $0
Adult: $3.15
Youth: $0
$11.25
7/1/19-12/30/20Adult: $1.23
Youth: $0
Adult: $1.23
Youth: $0
Adult: $3.15
Youth: $0
$11.25
2013-2019Adult: $1.44
Youth: $0.42
Adult: $2.025
Youth: $0.45
Adult: $3.75 collect; $3.15 pre-paid
Youth: $0.45
$11.252
2012Adult: $1.44
Youth: $0.42
Adult: $2.025
Youth: $0.45
Adult: $6.60
Youth: $1.98
N/A
2010-2011Adult: $1.45
Youth: $0.475
Adult: $2.03
Youth: $0.475
Adult: $6.65
Youth: $3.26
N/A
2009-2010Adult: $2.025
Youth: $0.675
Adult: $2.85
Youth: $0.675
Adult: $9.305
Youth: $0.675
N/A
2008-2009Adult: $2.445
Youth: $0.785
Adult: $3.50
Youth: $0.785
Adult: $11.585
Youth: $11.36
N/A
2007-2008Adult: $3.75
Youth: $1.25
Adult: $6.20
Youth: $1.25
Adult: $17.30
Youth: $17.30
N/A

Requests to provide content for tablets must be reviewed by CDCR to ensure they meet the Department’s rehabilitative goals, and that they comply with regulations regarding contraband and offensive materials. Examples of content that may be considered for tablet access include rehabilitative program content, reading materials, and audio files. To submit content for review, please utilize the Content Request Form. You will be asked to provide your name and organization, contact information, a description of the request and an example of the content.

Staying connected to family and loved ones is vital to individual success during and after incarceration. These connections keep people updated on family activities, assist with reentry planning, and help people stay motivated to follow a positive path. As Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), I am pleased to announce that not only is California implementing new technology to increase communication for those in our care, we are also implementing greatly reduced rates for telephone calls nationwide.

CDCR has entered a contract with ViaPath Technologies (formerly GTL) to expand upon the five-prison tablet program implemented in 2018. Beginning in mid-May, we will begin to provide tablets in every adult institution and fire camp, starting with Valley State Prison. Jails and prisons across the US are seeing the benefits of electronic devices, as they provide incarcerated individuals access to educational content, rehabilitative programs, and positive leisure-time activities, such as knowledge-based games and books. These devices also allow for activities to be tracked and monitored for safety and security.

These tablets are provided at no cost to families or incarcerated people, although certain premium features, such as streaming music services, may incur charges. The tablets may be used for rehabilitative programs, recreational reading, games and entertainment, to access law library materials, and to obtain vital departmental services such as Title 15 information, file grievances, and receive updates in real time. This technology also allows people to send and receive secure emails, and to receive (but not send) photos and short video clips from loved ones. Incarcerated individuals who are indigent ($25 or less in trust account for 30 consecutive days) will receive five free message credits per week.

Video calls are also available on the tablets. Scheduling and eligibility criteria for using the tablets for video calls are in development and will be updated as more information is available. At this time, the free Webex video visiting system remains in place. However, the tablets will be available for those who would like to make video calls in a different location, or to offset limited video visiting station availability in visiting rooms. Video calls will cost 20 cents per minute.

The rollout timeline and eligibility criteria are in development and will be updated regularly. It is expected that every adult institution will have tablets by the end of 2021, and all fire camps will have tablets by the end of March 2022. Access will be determined in accordance with existing regulations regarding contraband and correspondence.

ViaPath Technologies and CDCR are also easing the burden on loved ones who bear the cost of telephone calls. Beginning March 19, calls nationwide will now cost 2.5 cents per minute, a reduction of 5.1 cents per minute for local calls (same area code) and calls within California, and a reduction of 18.5 cents per minute for calls outside of California. This amounts to 37.5 cents for a 15-minute call anywhere in the US. In 2007, that same 15-minute local call would have cost $17.30.

Each incarcerated person will receive 15 minutes of free phone calls and 15 minutes of free video calls every two weeks. To support implementation of the free calls, incarcerated people will be given a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to make calls. Incarcerated individuals began setting up their PINs at Valley State Prison starting Feb. 25, and will be activated at all institutions by March 18. Until PINs are implemented, ViaPath Technologies and CDCR will continue to offer two free calling days per month.

As CDCR Secretary, I am deeply committed to implementing programs and procedures that set the people in our care up for success, and this initiative is one part of that important work. Thank you for all you do to support those incarcerated in California. I urge you to peruse this webpage to learn more about the tablets and phone rates, and to reach out to the Statewide Inmate Family Council or Office of External Affairs should you have any questions.

Respectfully,

KATHLEEN ALLISON
Secretary
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation