Inmates at Ada County Jail watch Hulu, check email in new system

Inmates at Ada County Jail watch Hulu, check email in new system

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- A new system at the Ada County Jail allows inmates more freedom when it comes to communicating with family and friends.

The jail will now allow inmates to communicate through video chat, email, photo message and voice mail for a price. Family members or friends just set up an account and make deposits whenever they want to give the inmate more time to talk.

With the new system, visitors don't have to come to the jail and can simply schedule a video chat any time from anywhere.

"For most of us who live in the age of technology, it's really been really helpful, you can schedule around it," said Wendy Hisner, an Ada County inmate. "They don't have to come and worry about specific scheduling and visiting times. I actually prefer it."

But the new system also allows for inmates to access the Internet, which costs 10 cents a minute. Emails can be sent out for 35 cents each.

The list of websites available to inmates is limited, but does include popular sites such as CNN, ESPN and Hulu, the sheriff's office says.

Opinions are mixed on the new system.

"Internet and Hulu? What's next Netflix and pizza delivery? Stop messing with my taxes," James Woods said on the KBOI Facebook page.

One commenter said she's OK with the system -- to a point.

"The email and video chats I think are OK so they can communicate with family, but I DO NOT agree with Hulu and ESPN," said Kim Ellstrom, another commenter.

Inmates also have free online access to the jail's legal library.

The company which installed the service, Telmate, pays for the equipment, installation and maintenance of the system. Ada County is guaranteed at least $12,000 in revenue a year.

Telmate also provides phone service for inmates. Ada County is guaranteed $41,750 in revenue a month for the fiscal year for that phone service. All revenue goes directly to the Ada County general fund.

All dorms have access to the system, which covers most inmates.