Inmates at the Sedgwick County Jail now have access to tablet computers they can use for education, entertainment and staying in touch with family.

The jail started using the tablets provided by jail communications firm Securus Technologies in November. The devices include a number of free options, such as books and educational materials. The company charges $5 a month for access to premium services like making calls and downloading songs or movies.

“It’s stuff we couldn’t even imagine to offer before. It’s very exciting for us to have,” jail administrator Col. Jared Schechter said.

Securus said the tablets are being used at more than two dozen Kansas jails that it works with. The devices are provided to detention facilities free, and the company makes money off the subscription fees and by selling media to inmates. The detention facilities receive a commission on the purchases.

Officials said the tablets operate on a secure wireless network that Securus installed at the jail that doesn’t offer inmates regular Internet access. The tablets can be checked out for a couple hours at a time.

Schechter said about 500 inmates — or about one-third of the jail’s population — subscribed to the $5 a month premium service within the first week the tablets were available.

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