How Corporations Turned Prison Tablets Into a Predatory Scheme


In 2017, JPay signed a contract with prisons in New York to provide 50,000 incarcerated people with tablets, projecting a net profit of $8.8 million by August 2022.

Tablets have become another commodity that predatory corporations use to price gouge incarcerated people. In 2017, JPay distributed free mini-tablets to the prison population in New York, providing access to email, music, e-books, and games at a hefty price. Prison telecommunications companies charge people at every step of the communication process. When Covid-19 first hit, visitation was canceled, and many people’s communications costs grew astronomically.

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Key Findings:

  • In New York, incarcerated people need four stamps to send a 30-second video gram to a loved one, and each stamp costs $0.25.
  • A single music album can cost up to $46. 
  • During the height of the pandemic, one incarcerated person estimated he spent $100 per month on services from their tablet; he previously spent $30 per month before the pandemic.
Tommaso Bardelli, Ruqaiyah Zarook, and Derick McCarthy
Dissent Magazine