Florida Prisons Playing “Whack-a-Mole” With Jailbroken Tablets (2024)

Loaded on June 1, 2024 published in Prison Legal News June, 2024, page 50

Filed under: JPay, Inc., Electronic Tablets. Location: Florida.

In an essay published in Slate on December 14, 2023, former Florida prisoner Ryan Moser said that officials with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) were “essentially playing whack-a-mole” in their efforts to combat an epidemic of “jailbreaking” prison-issued electronic tablets.

The tablets are issued free to prisoners under DOC’s contract with messaging service provider JPay, a subsidiary of prison telecommunications giant Securus Technologies. The devices connect to the internet at kiosks unless prisoners hack into the operating software to enable connection via a contraband cellphone—a process known as “jailbreaking.”

Moser said the only time he used a jailbroken tablet was one Thanksgiving when phones were down—which happens a lot, he added—so he risked disciplinary measures to make a desperate call his family via WhatsApp. Providing free messaging would reduce the problem, he said. But JPay collects one 39-cent “stamp” for each message a prisoner sends, while DOC pays prisoners exactly nothing for the work they are compelled to do during their incarceration.

DOC could also give prisoners cheaper and more reliable access to phone calls, which are currently provided by Securus competitor ViaPath—formerly Global*Tel Link—at a charge of 13.5 cents per minute. Though some prisoners use jailbroken tablets to watch p*rn, Moser said most use WhatsApp to get around these charges and make free calls.

Connecting to Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends is another reason prisoners pay up to $300 to have tablets jailbroken. Prisoners who do so lose access to JPay’s system, too, since the IP address of any tablet not synced at a kiosk for 30 days or more is locked out, also sending guards to investigate.

A prisoner with a modicum of technical ability can use a contraband cellphone or another jailbroken tablet to download software needed to update a particular model tablet and wipe it clean of JPay’s proprietary software. “You would think that a device used by inmates would be highly secure, employing a superior level of cybersecurity protocols,” one online pundit noted. “In reality, JPay tablets run on significantly outdated versions of the Android operating system that can be exploited for full unlocking.”

It can cost the prisoner with a jailbroken tablet another $250 to bribe a guard to smuggle a $25 Amazon wifi-hotspot so he can connect to the internet. Even if that cost isn’t shared with neighboring prisoners using it for their own jailbroken tablets, the whole $550 endeavor pays for itself in less than 65 hours on the phone with family and friends. For those who download the updating software, the cost can rise to $1,000, but jailbreaking tablets for a few other prisoners will recoup the investment and set up a handsomely profitable business.

All of which raises the question: Why has DOC let this mushroom when it claims to use “every tool at its disposal to mitigate contraband and illegal activity”? Maybe it doesn’t care as much as it says it does about the risk that prisoners will be exposed to fraud, cyberstalking and kiddie p*rn. Or maybe DOC simply uses those threats to maintain control over prisoners by manipulating their access to the people they care about most.

Source: Slate

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More from this issue:

  1. Contemporary Slavery: The Not-So-Secret Practice of Forced Labor Inside U.S. Prisons, by Douglas Ankney
  2. From the Editor, by Paul Wright
  3. Far-Right Claremont Institute Awards Extremist California Sheriff
  4. Dramatic Prisoner Escape in France Leaves Two Guards Dead
  5. Georgia Prisoner’s Challenge to “Deplorable” Conditions Survives Motion to Dismiss
  6. After Takeover from CoreCivic, Oklahoma Prison Even More Short-Staffed
  7. Missouri DOC Models Re-entry Program on Norwegian Prisons
  8. New York Court of Appeals Lets DOCCS Skate from Liability for Doctor’s Malpractice on State Prisoner, by Douglas Ankney
  9. Trans Detainee Sues Over Housing With Men on Rikers Island
  10. Texas Bankruptcy Court Rejects Proposed Settlement of Prisoner Claims Against Corizon Health
  11. Private Prison Transport Guards Sentenced to Prison for Raping Detainees, by Douglas Ankney
  12. Vermont Court Orders Centurion to Cough Up Records in HRDC Suit, by Matthew Clarke
  13. BOP Has a Halfway House Problem
  14. Michigan Makes Voting Rights Restoration Automatic for Prisoner’s at Release
  15. Los Angeles County Makes Jail Phone Calls Free
  16. Other Jails Study Miami Diversion Program to Keep Mentally Ill from Repeated Incarceration
  17. Louisiana Fights Federal Court Order to Remedy “Callous and Wanton Disregard” for Angola Prisoners’ Healthcare, by David Reutter
  18. Dixie Prison Growth Drives Number of Incarcerated Americans Above 2 Million Once Again
  19. HRDC Files Suit for Exonerated Florida Prisoner Wrongfully Incarcerated Over 44 Years
  20. Virginia Sheriff Sued After “Catfishing” Deputy Kills Family of California Teen Victim
  21. Two Sentenced in Detainee’s Fentanyl Death at North Florida Jail
  22. Seventh Circuit: Heck Bars Civil Rights Challenges to Civil Commitment, by Matthew Clarke
  23. Two Ohio Prisoners and Two Guards Tried for Assaults
  24. The Mind-Breakers: the Case of Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, by St Clair, Jeffrey
  25. Bankruptcy Threatens $500,000 Settlement in Suit Alleging Housing Discrimination Against Former Prisoners in New York City
  26. “Are You Freaking Kidding Me?” Former BOP Warden Accuses Guards of Recruiting Prisoners for Assaults at Troubled Lockup in Illinois, by David Reutter
  27. Contaminated Water a Longstanding Problem at Nebraska Women’s Prison
  28. Lawsuit Alleges Black ICE Detainee Subjected to Racial Slurs, Choked in Restraint Chair at Pennsylvania Jail, by Matthew Clarke
  29. Arkansas Sheriff Grilled Over Hit Netflix Show Filmed at Jail
  30. His Appeal Lost for 28 Years, Texas Prisoner Finally Off Death Row
  31. Botched Idaho Execution Halted, by Douglas Ankney
  32. BOP Lifts Maximum Age for New Guards to 40
  33. Colorado Law Creates “Rebuttable Presumption” Against Incarcerating Pregnant Women
  34. Executions Rise in 2023, Number on Death Row Falls
  35. CDCR Loses Suit Over Release of Employee Misconduct Records
  36. Idaho Continues To Cell “Dangerously Mentally Ill” Without Charges
  37. More Alabama Prisoners’ Families Say Their Corpses Were Returned Without Organs
  38. $20.5 Million Settlement for Two Kentucky Prisoners Exonerated and Freed After 22 Years, by David Reutter
  39. $7 Million Settlement for Mentally Ill Detainee’s Death in California’s Santa Rita Jail, by Matthew Clarke
  40. How Parole and Probation “No-Association” Conditions Hamper Successful Reentry
  41. Florida County Pays $300,000 to Settle Jail Suicide Suit, by Matthew Clarke
  42. Harris County Shipping Detainees from Overcrowded Jail to Mississippi CoreCivic Prison
  43. Atheist Chaplain Attends Atheist Oklahoma Prisoner During Execution
  44. Memphis Jail Accused of Routine Over-Detention in Suit Over Detainee’s Murder
  45. Tuberculosis Outbreak Exposed Weak Washington DOC Response
  46. Florida Prisons Playing “Whack-a-Mole” With Jailbroken Tablets
  47. Eleven Years After Consent Decree Entered, New Orleans Jail Still Not Compliant
  48. $5 Million Settlement in Death of Georgia Prisoner Left by Guards in Cell on Fire, by David Reutter
  49. $500,000 Jury Award Cut to $250,000 for Pennsylvania Prisoner Brutally Beaten by Guards, by Douglas Ankney
  50. Watchdog Finds “Alarming Conditions” at BOP Women’s Lockup in Florida, by David Reutter
  51. Texas Detainee Raped in Jail Sues Macy’s for False Facial-ID Match That Led to Arrest
  52. Report Finds Current Path of Florida Prison System “Unsustainable”, by David Reutter
  53. Settlement Obligates Washington DOC to Provide Gender-Affirming Care to Trans Prisoners
  54. Over $71,000 Awarded to Michigan Prisoner for Sexual Abuse by Guard, by Matthew Clarke
  55. Elderly Ohio Prisoner Beaten by Cellmate Despite Warning Guards, Who Cheered Attack
  56. Conflicting Reports from New Hampshire Prison Officials Before Guard Charged in Psychiatric Detainee’s Death
  57. U.N. Panel Finds Rampant Racism in U.S. Criminal Justice System
  58. Georgia Prisoner Stabs Warden
  59. $700,000 Jury Verdict for Wisconsin Prisoner Denied Due Process in Disciplinary Hearing, by David Reutter
  60. Lawsuit Over Mailroom Abuses by Washington DOC Leads to Policy Changes
  61. News in Brief

More from these topics:

  • Missouri Expands Prison Mail Ban to Include Books Sent by Family, Friends, April 1, 2024. JPay, Inc., Publications/Books, Banned Book Lists, Prison Mail, Securus.
  • How “Big Capital” Learned to Love Mass Incarceration, Jan. 1, 2024. Private Prisons, Corrections Corporation of America/CoreCivic, GEO Group/Wackenhut, Corizon, JPay, Inc., Centurion, Commentary/Reviews, Lobbying, Securus.
  • JPay Denied Motion to Compel Arbitration in Suit Over Debit Release Cards, Oct. 15, 2023. JPay, Inc., Seizure of Prisoner Funds, HRDC Litigation.
  • Insider Trading Charges Dropped Against JPay Founder, Sept. 15, 2023. JPay, Inc., Contractor Misconduct, Insider Trading.
  • JPay Founder Ryan Shapiro Indicted for Securities Fraud, March 1, 2022. JPay, Inc., Securities Fraud, Insider Trading.
  • Show Me the Money: Tracking the Companies that Have a Lock on Sending Funds to Incarcerated People, March 1, 2022. Private Prisons, JPay, Inc., Private Contractors, Private Phone Contractors, Global Tel*Link Corp.
  • CFPB Hits JPay with $6 Million in Fines and Restitution Over Fee-Heavy “Debit Release Cards”, Nov. 1, 2021. JPay, Inc., Seizure of Prisoner Funds, Fines.
  • HRDC Case Sues JPay Over Fee-Heavy “Release Card” Debit Cards, Oct. 1, 2021. JPay, Inc., Seizure of Prisoner Funds, PLN Litigation.
  • File a CFPB Complaint for Unfair Money Transfer Fees, Oct. 1, 2021. JPay, Inc., Complaints, Seizure of Prisoner Funds, PLN Litigation.
  • NBA Owner Capitalizes on Mass Incarceration; Players Silent, Dec. 1, 2020. JPay, Inc., Seizure of Prisoner Funds, Telephone Rates.
Florida Prisons Playing “Whack-a-Mole” With Jailbroken Tablets (2024)


Do inmates in Florida have tablets? ›

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) allows inmates and their families to communicate utilizing interactive, stationary kiosks available in general population housing units, as well as tablets. This service is provided for by JPay Inc., a Securus Technologies company, currently in contract with the Department.

What phone service does Florida prisons use? ›

The fastest and most convenient way for friends/family members to receive calls from incarcerated individuals at Florida Department of Corrections is by setting up an AdvancePay® prepaid calling account with ConnectNetwork.

What can an inmate do with a tablet? ›

Tablets offer specialized content and services for inmates to use during their stay at correctional facilities (where available). The tablets allow your loved ones access to a suite of education and entertainment content, plus the ability to place phone calls, send messages, and get general on-site support.

Can inmates get on Facebook on their tablets? ›

Although the tablets have up-to-date news and information for people who pay for access to news and magazines, they don't have an internet browser. That means no social media, either.

How many free calls do inmates get in Florida? ›

Typically, those calls cost 13.5 cents per minute. The state's communications provider does provide inmates with two free five-minute calls each month, but the pilot program allows inmates the chance to have another phone call each month that runs three times that length at no cost.

What app do prisoners use? ›

TextBehind® connects you with every inmate across America using text messages with photos, custom greeting cards and electronic money orders.

Do prisoners have access to tablets? ›

Tablets are provided at no cost to families or incarcerated people, although certain premium features, such as streaming music services, may incur charges. These paid tablet services are funded through the incarcerated individual's Trust Fund.

What states have JPay tablets? ›

Both JP5mini and JP5s: Ohio, California (pilots), Florida (Spring 2018), Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont and Washington facilities. Not every facility offers the JP5 tablets, and not every facility offers both models.

Can Florida inmates receive packages? ›

Inmates are allowed to receive 1 package per quarter. That 1 package can either be purchased by the inmate or by a family member/friend. If an order has already been placed by the inmate, the family member/friend cannot place an order as well.

Can inmates listen to music on their tablets? ›

Many states have introduced tablets into prisons, allowing users to do things like listen to music and send messages. Several incarcerated people told NPR that while the devices aren't perfect, the ability to stream music has been a game-changer.

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