West Virginia Charging Inmates $3 Per Hour to Read Free Books and $15 For Video Visitation

Inmates at multiple West Virginia prisons will get free tablets but they will be charged for things like using it to read books or communicate with their families, Reason reports.

Inmates at 10 West Virginia prisons will be charged 3 cents per minute to read books, even though all of the books on the tablet are from a free online library of books in the public domain.

"If you pause to think or reflect, that will cost you," Appalachian Prison Book Project founder Katy Ryan told the outlet. "If you want to reread a book, you will pay the entire cost again. This is about generating revenue for the state and profit for the industry. Tablets under non-predatory terms could be a very good thing inside prisons.

Free tablets will cost a lot:

According to a report from the Appalachian Prison Book Project, it will cost 5 cents per minute to listen to music or play games, 25 cents per minute for video visitations with family, 25 cents per written message sent, and 50 cents for every message sent with a photo.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, West Virginia inmates only earn between 4 cents and 58 cents per hour.

Some states crack down on free books:

“There's been a troubling trend in other parts of the country of prisons restricting book donations and forcing inmates to purchase books through pre-approved vendors or to use electronic tablets provided by private contractors like GTL and JPay,” Reason noted. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and three prisons in New York attempted such bans before caving to public pressure.


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