Electronic tablets will be available to inmates in several West Virginia prisons, giving them the ability to read books and articles, listen to music and communicate with their loved ones through email, photos and video chat—but they'll have to pay 3 to 5 cents a minute for the privilege of reading books that are already free. While the tablets will be positive for inmates—WVDCR cited access to educational materials, incentives for good behavior and staying connected to loved ones—the APBP, a nonprofit that offers free books and education to prisoners, reviewed the contract and called the fee structure "exploitative. It will cost inmates 5 cents per minute currently discounted to 3 cents per minute to read books, listen to music or play games; 25 cents per minute for video visitations; 25 cents per written message; and 50 cents to send a photo with a message. In contrast, wrote Reason, the Prison Policy Initiative estimated that wages in West Virginia prisons ranged between 4 cents and 58 cents an hour. This is about generating revenue for the state and profit for the industry. Tablets under non-predatory terms could be a very good thing inside prisons.
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Think again. He said the findings of the report were representative of cellphone use and bills nationwide. The rest are paid for but wasted. Many of the findings -- particularly the average cost per minute of wireless service -- have been speculated about for years by telecom observers. The UCAN report represents one of the first attempts to quantify costs based on a relatively broad sample of customers. Ken Muche, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, echoed this sentiment.
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