Sheriff’s Department: 1 Deputy Killed, 1 Injured in Rancho Cordova

Tablet Program Provides Entertainment, Education for Sacramento County Inmates

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SACRAMENTO --

On the streets of downtown Sacramento, life is fast-paced.

But inside the main jail on I Street, time moves slower.

"Yeah, in a nutshell, it just sucks, there's nothing good about it,” said inmate Brian Lennen.

"It's jail, it’s not supposed to be nice,” he added.

Lennen’s been locked up for 14 months. He says it seems like it’s been 14 years.

For the past two months, there’s been something new keeping him occupied, engaged and out of trouble: tablets.

"You don’t always get along with everybody in jail. It's a lot easier to get along with a tablet than other people,” said Lennen.

Inmate Esteban Gutierrez is trying to turn his life around. He says the lessons are helping him find new direction.

“I’m reading about who I am in here, and what values I have, and I discovered reading this that I had no values before, that's why I was selling drugs because I had no values, and I didn’t value myself,” said Gutierrez.

The idea behind the pilot program is to encourage productivity behind bars.

Forty Samsung tablets are secure; loaded with only material from the company “Edovo.”

"They basically earn to learn, they earn points which they can then use for videos or music,” said Sgt. Brian Amos with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

The software includes job training and educational lessons.

There’s no surfing the web, no email and no social media.

Inmates are loving it.

"It's something to do in here. As long as you got something to do, you stay outta trouble,” said Johnny "Bobo" Robbins.

For the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the tablets provide an incentive for good behavior.

Amos has noticed an improvement.

"We haven’t had a fight in either of the pods where these tablets have been deployed, and operationally, it's really helped us to create that safe and secure environment,” Amos said.

Currently, the tablets are only available to about 120 inmates on the fifth floor of the jail, and they can only be used in the common areas.

But who’s paying for criminals to use tablets?

"It's not taxpayer money, it's not even coming out of the sheriff's department general fund,” Amos said.

The money comes from the inmate welfare fund, which is revenue from commissary and telephone calls.

“The money in that fund has to be used back towards the inmates themselves," Amos said.

Some inmates are using tablets to learn new skills and create hope, so when they return to the world outside of jail, they have a better shot at succeeding.

"You feel like you got a better shot once you get out to do something," said Lennen.

The sheriff’s department is considering expanding the program, with up to 1,500 tablets in county jails.