skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Monday, April 15, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

25 million Blacks, Latinos missing from voter databases; major news organizations urge Biden and Trump to commit to presidential debates; NM gun-control advocates praise federal rule closing 'gun show loophole; Arkansas group raising awareness during Black Maternal Health Week.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

House Republicans want citizenship proof for federal election voting, under White House pressure Israel shows restraint after Iran's attack and Trump's hush money trial starts.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

People in WV Prisons Charged Steep Fees for “Free” Books

play audio
Play

Friday, December 13, 2019   

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – When prison technology company Global Tek Link, or GTL, announced in October that it was providing hundreds of free electronic tablets for West Virginia prisons, it sounded like a compassionate gesture.

But the program comes with a hitch. People who use it have to pay 3 cents per minute to read e-books on the tablets.

That's even though the reading material comes from Project Gutenberg, a free online source, according to Lydia Welker, social media coordinator for the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP).

"Permanent usage fees are an exploitative way for GTL to say they're providing 'free books' while charging incarcerated people by the minute to read those books," she states.

In a statement, GTL contends its tablet e-books offer "a supplement to facility libraries," and will be moved to free content with education and career resources.

Welker says with the introduction of tablets into correctional facilities, people in prison and their family members end up paying huge amounts of money, and private companies make millions.

She points out that reading with a meter running just adds financial anxiety to what should be a beneficial experience for the reader – particularly those with low literacy levels or dyslexia.

In West Virginia, the average prison job pays between 4 cents and 58 cents per hour, so reading a long book could be an expensive undertaking.

"At a reading rate of about 30 pages per hour, it would cost $20.16 to read the first Harry Potter book, or about $19.80 to read George Orwell's ‘1984’" Welker states.

The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation receives a 5% commission on the tablet revenue, which it says will go into an "inmate benefit fund."


get more stories like this via email

more stories
In March, state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, introduced House Bill 2063, which would reform the Educational Improvement Tax Credit and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs. (Jasmina/AdobeStock)

Social Issues

play sound

A new report analyzes Pennsylvania's existing voucher programs, that divert public funds to private schools. This comes on the heels of Gov…


Social Issues

play sound

A bill vetoed by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin would have raised the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour starting in 2026. While the bill moved out …

play sound

By Erin Aubry Kaplan for Yes! Magazine.Broadcast version by Suzanne Potter for California News Service reporting for the Yes! Magazine-Public News …


There are more than 1,300 species listed as either endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, including the piping plover, a shorebird found on sandy beaches in southern Maine. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

Conservationists in Maine said reinstated protections of the Endangered Species Act could help wildlife already struggling to adapt to climate change…

Social Issues

play sound

Haitian-led groups in Massachusetts are calling for a temporary pause in deportations as political instability and violence engulf the island…

Women ages 35 and older in Arkansas have the highest mortality rate, which was 3.9 times the rate of women younger than 25. (Andrey Popov)

Social Issues

play sound

Arkansas is taking critical steps to address its high maternal mortality rate, especially among women of color. In the Natural State, Black women …

Social Issues

play sound

In the midst of political tensions surrounding Israel's handling of the conflict with Hamas, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has voiced her support for …

Health and Wellness

play sound

As the country observes Autism Acceptance Month, Nebraska families raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder are among those learning they will …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright © 2021