A major technology upgrade is on the way for the inmate phone system at the Grayson County Jail. Inmates will have to wait until sometime in August for the change but their patience will be rewarded with an electronic mail system that will allow them easier and less expensive communication with their families and friends on the outside.

Tuesday, Grayson County commissioners approved a contract between the jail and a Louisiana-based company called Correct Solutions Group that will provide the new technology to the jail and give the Grayson County Sheriff’s office a nice slice of the profits from the system. The contract says the county will get an 82 percent commission on each completed phone call with the system.

GCSO Lt. Sarah Bigham said the new system not cost the county any additional money and could be cheaper for inmates and their families to use than the current system.

In the new system, Bigham said, CSG will provide the jail with tablets which will be used by the inmates to communicate with the outside world. The mail that they are sent are sent through the U.S. Post Office will be scanned at an offsite facility and transferred to the tablets. Then, inmates will be given free access to the tablets several times a day.

Bigham said the jail expects to have about one tablet for every four inmates. The contract presented to the commissioners court Tuesday said that in addition to the free access the inmates will get each day, inmates will be allowed to rent the tables for an hour at a time for .99 an hour.

The tablets will not have open access to the outside world, Bigham said. They will have access only to the closed system of electronic mail and to the Grayson County Law Library. She said currently, inmates are only allowed to have up to six photos with them in the jail. However, once the new system is in place an inmate can set up and account and then family can email them photos. Those photos will be screened for appropriateness and then delivered to the inmate’s account where they can see them when they have access to the tablet. Mail coming to the inmate is free.

Though there will be some charge for the inmates to send communication from the system, Bigham said it should be less expensive than sending a letter from the jail is currently.

“They have to pay for the paper, envelope and stamp,” she said at this time, and that can add up about $2 a letter.

If the inmate is charged 50 cents to send a message, they are coming out ahead with the new system. The charges will be taken off the inmates’ commissary account. The system will also allow family members to add money to the inmate’s account. There will be a kiosk set up to allow community members to add funds to the inmate accounts, according to the contract.

Bigham said that the tablet system will be a privilege that inmates get when they behave themselves and just like any other privilege, it can be taken away if they don’t behave. Inmates who would prefer can continue to get their mail delivered the old fashioned way.

Once a person is released from the Grayson County Jail, they will still be able to access their account to get copies of their mail.

Bigham said because the system is new to Grayson County, they are still working out the rules and procedures for both the inmates and the staff. They expect to have that all planned out before the jail’s contract with its current phone provider ends this summer and the new contract starts in August.