County commissioners on Thursday reached a deal to provide free tablets to county jail inmates to help them prepare to return to society.
The tablets, which are free for taxpayers or inmates, will be donated by GTL, who is the current supplier of Lebanon County Prison and the largest provider of inmate telephone services in the country.
“GTL is a company we have had a very long contract with for phone service to inmates,” said Jamie Wolgemuth, Chief Clerk / County Administrator. “(It) gives them the ability to call, anticipates the charges they incur and provides for a commission that the facility receives and, as GTL has done for ours and other facilities, they in return offer some services and technologies, etc. as a partner in this area.
Noting that she was thrilled with the opportunity, prison guard Tina Litz said the tablets will give inmates access to an educational suite that will allow them to learn while they are in the prison system.
“There are several models of educational learning for the prison population, and they also contain the possibility of making contact with the community, which is important especially with COVID,” said Litz. “And they also have different behavioral parameters that we can use to help the prison population. “
Litz added that the tablets contain educational elements that will enhance inmate learning, which was hampered during the recent pandemic, while reducing stigma within the prison system targeting people who want to improve their lives.
“As you know the inmates are too embarrassed, it’s not cool to be in school or to continue your education or to admit that you need help with certain things,” Litz said. “These tablets provide confidentiality to inmates if they want to better value themselves. It also has a section on work skills and personal finances which as a county correctional facility as they move back into the community is a highlight for us to be able to offer them some ways to do their best. improve.
The tablets also provide access to religion and spirituality, reading and literacy and legal material as well as informational videos that inmates can access, according to Litz. Another service will allow them to videoconference with family members and loved ones, which is essential during the current pandemic. The video conference, Litz added, will be monitored by staff for security reasons.
Litz said that an yet to be determined amount of tablets will be distributed for each cell block and that inmates will have access to the tablets during their blocking period.
In other action points, the commissioners agreed to:
- Provide $ 3,250 from the County Hotel Grants Tax Fund to help with costs associated with Historic Old Annville Day, which will take place on Saturday August 14th. It has been noted that approximately 8,000 people descend to Annville during this annual event. The funding request was made to: help pay for billboards; hire live bands; pay music license fees and cover costs associated with traffic control. The payment covers just under half of the event’s $ 8,000 budget.
- Make an agreement with Lebanon County Christian Ministries for a fee of $ 30 per transaction to make payments for utility assistance under Emergency rental assistance program (ERAP) for tenants participating in the ERAP. In another PIU-related action, two former employees of Community action partnership, the local agency that administers the PIU program, were hired at a rate of $ 33 per hire, for a maximum of 25 hours per week, to help with the processing of rental assistance applications.
- Sign an agreement with Media forever at an annual rate of compensation of $ 7,000 to allow the communications company to erect a radio tower on county-owned land on top of a mountain in the Township of East Hanover. The company and the county have agreed to share the cost of taxes owed to have the tower on land that already contains a 911 emergency communications tower, which is owned by the county.
- The Commissioners also received an update on employee retirement and retirement funds for the first quarter of 2021 and received a presentation from Audrie Louise Risser of the Lebanon County Dairy Princess, who encouraged consumers to buy local by looking for the plant code that begins with the number “42” on dairy products. This number meant that the products are processed in Pennsylvania and are sourced primarily from dairy farms in Pennsylvania.
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