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Philadelphia Inquirer exposes Pennsylvania’s complicity in cutting off incarcerated people’s access to books

The Pennsylvania DOC introduces a telecom company to a large, captive market for e-books.

by Wanda Bertram, September 21, 2018

Pennsylvania prisons just ended book donations to incarcerated people, claiming they’ve found a new, better way to provide access to books. Their bright idea? Partnering with telecom giant GTL to sell e-books on tablet computers.

Prison tablets, as we’ve shown, deliver low-quality services at frequently exorbitant prices. Email on a prison tablet requires a paid “stamp.” If that’s an acceptable substitute for email, we wondered, what does GTL think passes for a library?

I intended to find out, but the Philadelphia Inquirer beat me to it, with an article this morning revealing just how insufficient GTL’s book list is. Many of the most popular books among incarcerated people – including dictionaries – are missing. Read the excellent full article here, or my summary on Twitter:

Prison tablets are touted as bringing the outside world to incarcerated people, but all they seem to be doing is bringing a new, captive market to telecom giants. Pennsylvania should allow groups that donate books – groups that walk these companies’ talk – to keep doing their valuable work.

Wanda Bertram is the Communications Strategist at the Prison Policy Initiative. (Other articles | Full bio | Contact)

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