Florida inmates will lose their personal mp3 collections – over 6.7 million songs spread across 30,000 inmates – due to a required tablet swap instituted by the state’s Department of Corrections.
Since 2011, Florida inmates have used a tablet distributed by Access Corrections to download mp3s at $1.70 apiece, the Florida Times-Union reports. However, the Florida Department of Corrections agreed to a deal with rival company JPay in 2017, forcing inmates to give up their current Access tablet and the non-transferable mp3s they store.
Department of Corrections spokesperson Patrick Manderfield said the mp3 collections could not be transferred from Access to JPay because the “devices/services are provided by two different vendors.” Manderfield added that the inmates could keep their music collections intact if they sent “their devices and music to an outside address,” meaning they could have their tablets back upon release from prison.
The Florida Department of Corrections argues that the switch to the Florida-based JPay was necessary due to the advancement in technology since the Access tablets were distributed; while Access devices were solely used for entertainment purposes, JPay tablets provide educational and employee opportunities and the ability to have “video visitation” with their family, Slate reported in 2013
Florida inmates losing their Access devices will receive a free JPay tablet as part of the forced swap. However, the JPay device also provides a financial windfall for the Department of Corrections: Whereas the DOC received $1.7 million in commissions since Access arrived in 2011, JPay has already provided the DOC with $3.9 million in commissions over its first 12-month period, the Times-Union reported.
Assistant warden Timothy Hoey admitted that the transferring of inmates’ mp3 collection was “not feasible to download content from one vendor’s device to another, not only due to incompatibility reasons, but the download of content purchased from one vendor to another vendor’s device would negate the new vendor’s ability to be compensated for their services.”