Secure WiFi added to ND State Penitentiary

Published: Oct. 17, 2018 at 6:13 PM CDT
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Access to the outside world is limited for prison inmates.

The North Dakota State penitentiary has incorporated a secure WiFi system to the prison, one that inmates can access. This allows more freedom and also more privacy.

More than 400 inmates already have these tablets. That's half of the population here at the state penitentiary. And how they get them? Well they either save up or have their family help them purchase them.

Music and the ability to make connections to the outside are now within the reach of inmates finger tips.

"Just being able to do the simple little things. Being able to call family and friends wherever," said inmate Chad Seibel.

Inmates are allowed to have 20 people in their approved call list but can only talk to them in 15 minute intervals. The tablet allows them to make calls from most places on prison grounds, even their cells.

"Now you can just call back. Instead of, if you have 10 people waiting in line. Out of the respect factor, you get back to the end of the line. So if you got two to three people in line, you're talking a half an hour, 45 minutes," said Seibel.

Administrators at the prison say this helps minimize fights.

But, phone calls are just the tip of the iceberg.

Deputy Warden of Operations Shaun Fode said: "They don't have any internet access or anything like that. It's just the application is on their iPad. So their commissary ordering, their phone applications. They're moving towards being able to hopefully purchase music and books and stuff like that."

Inmates are glad they get the opportunity to learn how to use technology that comes natural to those on the outside.

"When I first got this thing, I was in no man’s land, I had no. You know a computer had a button that says on and off. It's so much different," said Seibel.

He says this helps inmates who have been in prison for a long time to transition to getting out.

And now, with WiFi being all across the state pen, admin is thinking of new ways of incorporating it into the inmates lives. The next step is education. This will allow the inmates to do their assignments from anywhere across the prison.

The tablet costs more than $100 and every app has a cost, all taken care of by inmates or their families.