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.
CDCR knows how important it is for incarcerated people to stay connected with their loved ones. The Department offers ample opportunities for connection through in-person and video visits, letters, electronic messaging, and video and audio calls.
CDCR continues to expand access to new and existing services and innovative rehabilitative opportunities. This six-year contract covers many aspects of communications technology, including providing access to services from tablets and kiosks for the entire incarcerated population.
Beginning January 1, 2023, all telephone audio calls made from an incarcerated person in a California state prison will be free of charge to the incarcerated person and their friends and families.
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 are provided at no cost to families or incarcerated people, although certain premium features, such as streaming music services, may incur charges. These paid tablet services are 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. Learn more about ConnectNetwork and how to get started. (web.connectnetwork.com/get-started-cdcr).
Update: Interim Contract (June 15, 2023)
In accordance with the California Supreme Court ruling, the department has vacated the contract with Viapath Technologies (VPT), as required by the Sacramento County Superior Court. As also permitted by that court’s order, CDCR has entered into an emergency interim contract with ViaPath to keep all existing communication services fully operational until we are able to complete the bid process for a permanent contract for these services.
This means all existing tablet and phone services will be maintained during this interim period, but no additional services will be implemented until the permanent contract is in place. There will be no gap in services during this transition. All adult institutions currently have telephone and tablet services. People housed in any areas in institutions that have not yet received tablets can use kiosks, mail or telephone calls until they receive their tablets.
Institution Tablet Rollout – Complete
- 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
- California State Prison-Sacramento (SAC) – October 2022
- Folsom State Prison (FSP) – November 2022
- Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) – December 2022
- California State Prison-Los Angeles County (LAC) – February 2023
- Centinela State Prison (CEN) – March 2023
- California Correctional Institution (CCI) – March 2023
- Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP) – March 2023
- California Institution for Men (CIM) – April 2023
- Avenal State Prison (ASP) – April 2023
- California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) – April 2023
- California State Prison-Corcoran (COR) – April 2023
- Correctional Training Facility (CTF) – April 2023
- North Kern State Prison (NKSP) – April 2023
- San Quentin State Prison (SQSP) – May 2023
- Wasco State Prison (WSP) – May 2023
- Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) – June 2023
- California Medical Facility (CMF) – June 2023
- California Health Care Facility (CHCF) – June 2023
- Calipatria State Prison (CAL) – June 2023
- Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) – June 2023
- Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) – June 2023
- California Men’s Colony (CMC) – September 2023
Why is CDCR implementing free calls?
Beginning January 1, 2023, no friends, family, or incarcerated person will be billed for calls. CDCR is committed to strengthening bonds between incarcerated people and their families and communities. These relationships are important not only during incarceration, but also after someone is released from prison.
On September 27, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1008, the Keep Families Connected Act. This bill requires all state prisons and local detention facilities in California provide voice communication services to incarcerated people free of charge to the person making and receiving the communication.
CDCR’s current communications service provider, ViaPath Technologies (VPT), will continue to provide calling services.
This new free calling program is for audio calls only and does not include video calls on kiosks and wall-docked tablets, which cost 20 cents per minute.
Is there a limit on the number of free calls an incarcerated person can make?
Other than institution-set hours of operations for calling times and the 15-minute per-call time limit, there is no limit on the number of free audio calls incarcerated people can make.
How does an incarcerated person make a free call?
There will be no changes to how an incarcerated person makes a free call. For domestic calls they will press “2” plus the area code and phone number when prompted, and “2” plus “011” then the country code and international phone number for international calls. People receiving calls will still be notified prior to accepting the call that the call is coming from an incarcerated person and asking them to indicate whether they would like to accept the call. All calls will be recorded.
How do I receive a free call from an incarcerated person?
People receiving calls will still need to have an active ConnectNetwork Advance Pay account with VPT, although they will not be charged for calls after January 1, 2023. Those without an Advance Pay account should call (866) 607-6006 to set one up free of charge. Users will not be required to place funds on the Advance Pay account when setting it up.
People with existing funds on their Advanced Pay account who would like them returned should call (866) 607-6006. It is important to note that during the call users should not ask for their account to be closed as the account is required to receive free calls.
Why is 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. CDCR has been steadily 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 with tablets and their loved ones report they appreciate the ability to stay connected, in addition to having consistent access to eBooks, legal materials, and entertainment.
Who gets 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). Tablets may be used in cells/dormitories. Institutions are responsible for developing site-specific rules about tablet use.
Incarcerated people in restricted housing for non-disciplinary reasons are allowed to access paid services on their tablets. Incarcerated people in restricted housing for disciplinary reasons may not use paid services on the tablets while they are in restricted housing units. Paid services include premium movies, music, news and sports, podcasts, messaging, video calling, audio calls, and internet radio.
When will incarcerated people receive tablets?
Tablets distribution began 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. YORCs are designed to cluster such individuals together at select adult institutions to encourage positive programming targeted to their specific needs. The timeline will be updated regularly and is subject to change based on operational need.
What is included in this contract?
This six-year contract is with ViaPath Technologies, which 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 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 are 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 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. 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 20 cents per minute.
How do individuals use the tablets?
Instructions 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 is provided to the Warden and staff members at every institution prior to deployment. VPT trains staff on how to monitor the tablets. They 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. Employees and incarcerated workers 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 and are available to every user.
Are the tablets and telephones accessible for people with disabilities?
The ADA incarcerated population and workers as well as CDCR employees 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 and are available to every user. In addition, the existing Video Relay Solution (VRS) and telephones with captioning technology (TTY) are available free of charge upon request.
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 are reviewed by VPT for inappropriate content, and staff are alerted 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 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.
Incarcerated people are not allowed to have obscene material and/or mail. This includes pictures and videos that show explicit sexual conduct involving minors and adults, as well as other acts. Please read Title 15, Article 1 section 3006 for more details. Any disturbing or offensive pictures or video messages submitted to the tablets by friends, family, or other contacts will be disapproved, and the sender will be notified. If that person tries to send another disturbing or offensive image or video, they will be banned from sending messages to any incarcerated person’s tablet.
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
- Calm – guided meditations, sleep aids, and soothing sounds
- Sundar Gutka
- Religious library
- Audiobooks, e-books, magazines
- CDCR approved 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)
- Music Pass (by subscription)
- Audiobooks, e-books, magazines
What if there are technical problems with someone’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. Tablet users may submit a Tablet Performance Form to VPT 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, VPT monitors 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 VPT, users should provide notes about what they are experiencing so VPT can best resolve the issue. Only one form should be submitted per issue, and VPT will respond within three business days.
|Telephone calls (nationwide)||Free|
|Telephone calls (international)||Free|
|Video calls||$0.20 per minute|
|Video Message (inbound only)||$0.05|
|E-Card (inbound only)||$0.05|
|Photos (inbound only)||$0.05|
|CDCR approved podcasts||Free|
|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.
*Cost for 15-minute phone call
|Year||Local (same area code)||InterLATA (within California)||Interstate (within US)||International|
|2021-2022||Adult: $0.375||Adult: $0.375||Adult: $0.375||$1.05|
|2020-2021||Adult: $1.14||Adult: $1.14||Adult: $3.15||$11.25|
|7/1/19-12/30/20||Adult: $1.23||Adult: $1.23||Adult: $3.15||$11.25|
|2013-2019||Adult: $1.44||Adult: $2.025||Adult: $3.75 collect; $3.15 pre-paid||$11.252|
|2012||Adult: $1.44||Adult: $2.025||Adult: $6.60||N/A|
|2010-2011||Adult: $1.45||Adult: $2.03||Adult: $6.65||N/A|
|2009-2010||Adult: $2.025||Adult: $2.85||Adult: $9.305||N/A|
|2008-2009||Adult: $2.445||Adult: $3.50||Adult: $11.585||N/A|
|2007-2008||Adult: $3.75||Adult: $6.20||Adult: $17.30||N/A|