Topeka FYI — an e-mail system available to state prisoners — is going pretty well, according to corrections officials.
“It has a very good security system,” said Deputy Corrections Secretary for Facilities Management Charles Simmons.
In the first month of operation, 17,000 e-mail messages were sent to and from inmates, he said.
From a safety management point of view, the e-mails are easier to screen than regular mail, which has to be physically checked for potential contraband, such as hidden drugs.
“Inmate mail is one of the primary methods for introducing contraband into a correctional facility and also requires significant staff resources,” said Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz.
Officials say they expect the volume of paper mail to decrease because of the messaging system.
The e-mails are screened by computer software that searches for words and phrases that could represent a risk.
The new service is available to inmates at a charge of 43 cents per e-mail and is paid for by the inmate or someone on their behalf.
The system is being run by JPay Inc., an inmate services company based in Miami.
It was installed and is operated at no charge to the state. Computer terminals are in kiosks in each correctional facility.
Inmates can communicate with people outside the prisons, but only with people who agree to it.
The corrections department has rules governing use of the system, and notes that prisoners will not have access to the Internet.
The federal government started making e-mail available to inmates several years ago and plans to have it in all U.S. prisons in 2011.