FAQ: CDCR secure laptops project

Individual using computer keyboard

As part of its mission to facilitate the successful reintegration of individuals back to the community with the tools to be drug-free, healthy, and employable members of society, CDCR is preparing to deploy 30,000 secure laptops to incarcerated students taking part in educational programs.

Why is CDCR providing laptops to incarcerated students?

Making these secure laptops available to incarcerated students only allows them access to more educational content while also teaching them how to use technology many may not have experienced prior to their incarceration. Laptops will be distributed to institutions for use by incarcerated people in academic education programs. These secure laptops are intended to supplement direct teacher instruction. The laptops also provide opportunities for students to acquire skills using 21st century technology necessary for success in the institution as well as after release. Laptops are a tool teachers can use to provide students with meaningful, relevant and interactive learning experiences in class and outside of the traditional educational environment.

Who will get a laptop?

The laptops will first be available on a checkout basis to students in community college and bachelor’s degree programs. Content will consist first of academic coursework, with Career Technical Education (CTE) vocational content expected to be deployed later in the project.

When will laptops be available?

The laptops are being rolled out in phases, starting with seven institutions that received their first batch of laptops in December 2021 for use in the spring 2022 semester.

These are:

  • Central California Women’s Facility
  • California Rehabilitation Center
  • Folsom State Prison
  • California State Prison-Los Angeles County
  • Mule Creek State Prison
  • Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility
  • and Valley State Prison.

The laptops are being rolled out in phases to the remaining institutions. All institutions will have laptops available for use by the end of summer 2022, with the full 30,000 deployed by the end of June 2025.

What is on the laptops?

The laptops will contain standard computer programs that incarcerated students use on classroom desktop computers today. This includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and other Office apps. It will also include pre-loaded bookmarks to approved Internet sites, and a link to the Division of Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) Learning Network, where students will access learning tools and resources. Students can access a variety of web-based educational courses, including high school courses, standardized testing, and approved research sites. Additionally, reentry resources such as the Automated Rehabilitative Catalog and Information Discovery (ARCAID) database is available, with thousands of community resources, forms, documents, and job listings for people nearing release.

Are the laptops secure?

The laptops offer secure wireless connectivity in approved areas of the prison, including classrooms, libraries, dining halls, and housing units. The only websites students can access are those approved by CDCR leadership and accessible via the Learning Network. Students cannot access social media sites, email, or other non-approved sites. All activity is monitored. The laptop cameras, media card readers, and Bluetooth capabilities have been disabled. These laptops do not have Ethernet ports and also contain anti-virus software.

How does this benefit academic instructors?

Cloud-based content allows the Office of Correctional Education (OCE) to ensure consistent educational content and quality in all academic programs, including effective communication and accommodation for students with disabilities. Each laptop meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, including magnification technology, text-to-speech, and closed captioning. The laptops also expand opportunities for remote learning, both by guest instructors who may not be able to travel to remote institutions, and during times of modified programs and limited movement, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. They also allow students who are not able to attend class, such as those with long-term medical conditions, to participate in educational programs.

What does this initiative cost?

CDCR received $23.2 million in General Funding and 43 positions in Fiscal Year 2021-22 to deploy the laptops and build out the infrastructure to support the expanded student network. With all licensing and peripherals, each Dell 2190 Thin Client laptop costs about $835.

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