Prison Tech Firm JPay Says It Has Restored Writing and Editing Options for Incarcerated Clients

Incarcerated individuals and advocates sounded the alarm over the removal of basic capabilities on prison devices over the weekend

JPay, a tech company that services incarcerated individuals, said Monday that a recent system change that impacted writing and abilities was made in error and has been reversed.

“Through the latest JPay update, the system inadvertently removed the option for incarcerated individuals to save drafts and edit copy in the body of the email. This was in no way intentional and we have reinstated those actions where it was previously available. We apologize for the inconvenience and disruption to our customers,” a representative for the company told TheWrap.

On Sunday and Monday, incarcerated people and advocates noted the change to the JPay system and accused the Securus Technologies subsidiary of intentionally hampering incarcerated writers’ ability to work and document their lives.

John J. Lennon, a contributing editor at Esquire, tweeted, “DOCCS and @JPay just reprogrammed it’s whole email system to remove cutting and pasting. No more drafts, our version of Word is gone. Amazing for a writer like me. They are looking to contain the content … I’m trying to keep my cool. I can only imagine how many other incarcerated writers are impacted by this. The many people who are just trying to write to their families who are now impacted by this. Ridiculous.”

Christopher Blackwell, a journalist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post and other outlets, wrote, “I’m an incarcerated journalist. I have no access to computers. The only way I’m able to write is on my prison JPay tablet. Today JPay updated their operating system so that you cannot save drafts to edit or make paragraphs. An intentional change to silence those of us that write.”

Following JPay’s statement to the media, Blackwell told TheWrap in a direct message, “It appears the draft box has been restored (although we do not know if people who lost their data already will have their data restored). We are still unable to make paragraphs. The enter button was replaced with a ‘done’ button. In addition, the text appears in one long line. This all also makes it near impossible to edit. We don’t know if those updates were intentional.”

A JPay representative did not immediately return a request for comment on when full functionality is expected to be restored or how the removal of certain functions happened.

“We are hoping those get reversed so that people can continue to write,” Blackwell said.

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