Massachusetts DOC Completes Statewide Integration of Tablet Program

By CN Staff

MILFORD, Mass.—Earlier this month the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) announced the successful implementation of an innovative tablet program that equips incarcerated individuals with personalized electronic devices for convenient access to a wide range of online courses to accelerate education, job skill training, and self-improvement programs. The program has now been implemented in every DOC facility statewide.

The DOC established a Virtual Education Team to develop a series of digital educational offerings available at no cost to incarcerated individuals. In consultation with incarcerated students, the Virtual Education Team designed a robust package of self-directed courses featuring more than 40 programs in various subjects, including High School Equivalency Test preparation, English, Math, Science, Music self-enrichment learning materials, and financial literacy aids.

In addition, the tablets feature a job training curriculum for in-demand skills, including HVAC, plumbing, and electrical industries. Tablet programming also allows incarcerated individuals to pursue OSHA certifications and access resources for substance use and mental health.

“Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in efforts to reduce recidivism. Our administration remains deeply committed to investing in innovative strategies that provide individuals with tools and resources to improve outcomes and sustain positive life choices,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Enhancing the DOC’s existing educational programming with the agency-wide implementation of this advanced technology will further prepare individuals for successful reintegration into community and support the agency’s rehabilitative mission.”

“The addition of tablets to the DOC’s rehabilitative model strengthens the agency’s delivery of meaningful programs and equitable pathways to improve the transition from incarceration to community,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “We remain committed to identifying innovative and effective ways to reduce recidivism and breakdown barriers to successful reentry through evidence-based programming.”

“Maximizing the use of this technology to bolster the DOC’s range of rehabilitative programming will further help to prepare individuals for their next step toward successful reentry,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “I commend the DOC for their continued efforts to identify innovative ways to offer continuous programming that improves lives and meaningfully impacts recidivism.”

The tablet initiative was first introduced as a pilot program in July 2022 and has now successfully expanded to every DOC facility. The tablets, provided by Orijin, operate on a secure internal network that does not permit access to the Internet. The DOC has worked diligently to outfit every facility with the necessary technology to ensure the effective system-wide implementation of the program.

The tablet initiative will further strengthen the DOC’s existing in-person educational programming and vocational training provided across the 11 correctional facilities in coordination with numerous strategic partners, including external institutions of higher education such as MIT, Boston University, Boston College, Babson College, Tufts University, Emerson College, Massasoit Community College, and Mount Wachusett Community College.

In-person vocational instructors continue to equip students with marketable job skills in areas such as computer coding (i.e., the Last Mile), metal fabrication, printing operations, computer-aided design, optical, barbering, cosmetology, welding, Culinary Arts, ServSafe, diesel mechanic, small engine repair and other employable skills.

In 2023, a preliminary analysis of tablet use at DOC facilities showed that nearly 5,000 incarcerated individuals accessed more than 252,000 hours content and took part in more than 1,150 virtual classrooms.

Other highlights from 2023 tablet use include:

  • Incarcerated learners used their tablets between 50-70 minutes a day
  • Students completed nearly 8,970 courses
  • Massachusetts DOC’s education course completion rate was more than double the industry standard, which is attributed to DOC educational staff engagement
  • Students earned nearly 450 OSHA-10 certificates, a credential they can carry into the workforce upon reentry
  • 62 students earned 93 certificates in ‘Introduction to HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical
  • Students at MCI-Norfolk spent over 27,000 hours reading eBooks

In addition to rehabilitative programming, the electronic devices allow incarcerated individuals to maintain essential connections with their families and outside support network, which is proven vital to enhancing rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, and improving community safety. Through the No Cost Calls initiative implemented in December 2023, incarcerated people are permitted to connect with loved ones through their department-issued tablets.

“As we continue to focus on our objective to rehabilitate incarcerated individuals, the DOC will continue to seek out more innovative ways to prepare individuals for a successful transition back into communities,” said DOC Interim Commissioner Shawn Jenkins. “Our staff work hard to create, promote, and cultivate programs and initiatives that keep Massachusetts at the forefront of reducing recidivism.”