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Prisons Taking Away Inmates’ MP3 Players and More Than 6.7 Million Songs

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America’s prison system is a big business. As such, some of the decisions that are made about the way the prisons operate are about what’s best for the bottom line, and not for the inmates. This one, though, has caught the attention of many outside the prison system.

“For the last seven years, inmates have stocked the libraries of their personal MP3 players with $2 downloads,” The Florida Times-Union writes. “Come January, they’ll be forced to hand it all over because the Florida Department of Corrections signed a new deal with a competing company.”

JPay, a privately company, will “sell profit-driven multimedia tablets” to the inmates in Florida.

The new system will mean that the prisoners will have to give p their old MP3 players, and all of their MP3s, as they had been provided by a competing company.

“More than 30,299 players were sold, and 6.7 million songs were downloaded over the life of the [previous] contract, according to the Department of Corrections. That’s about $11.3 million worth of music.”

This music won’t transfer to the new systems.

The money required for these services has to come in from the outside. Families typically make payments. And it isn’t just for the music services.

“JPay already operates banking accounts and facilitates phone calls at the state-run prisons, charging inmates and their loved ones steep fees for the services,” FTU adds. “With the introduction of tablets, JPay will add a wide swath of new spending incentives for its incarcerated customers, offering purchases of music, emailing and other virtual fare.”

When inmates make purchases, the Department of Corrections gets a cut. When families transfer money into accounts for the inmates, Corrections also takes a service fee. “The agency received $3.9 million in commissions from JPay account transfers between April 2017 and March 2018.”

Now, as inmates have to replace their entire libraries of music, the state stands to take in even more money.

Patrick Manderfield, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, told reporters this isn’t about profit, but about keeping up with the times. MP3 players do one thing well. The new tablets will have much broader capabilities.

And inmates can keep their MP3 players, just not in the actual prison itself.

“We have made every effort to ensure inmates can retain non-transferable music by sending their devices and music to an outside address,” Manderfield said.