One of the newer technological developments in federal prison is the advent of the TRULINCS computers and the supported MP3 player function. Inmates are now permitted to purchased either a 4 GB or 8 GB SanDisk MP3 player from their prison’s commissary which typically range from $69 to $89 each.
Once purchased, federal prisoners can then activate the device and use the music service to browse for songs to download. While over two million songs are available for browsing and purchase, each song carries a cost ranging from 16 to 31 TRU-Units, which cost $0.05 each. While no iTunes, the TRULINCS music function is an impressive leap forward from the traditional clear Sony AM/FM radio.
Depending on the model in question, the MP3 player holds between 2,000 and 4,000 songs, contains a FM radio, and some of the newer models even have an equalizer. While some models have a voice recorder, this function is disabled. Also, some MP3 players have an audio book and podcast function, but the Federal Bureau of Prisons to date does not offer audio books or podcasts for download.
There is a very large variety of music available for browsing and download through the TRULINCS computers. While some music is restricted (e.g., parental advisory, particularly violent or sexual, etc.), you will find a surprisingly large selection of top artists. For example, you can find everything from Taylor Swift and Blink-182 to 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg.
Prisoners can connect their MP3 players to the TRULINCS computers in their housing units in order to use the music folio. Once inside the folio prisoners can browse for songs by artist, title, album name, genre, and even most popular. They can also preview 30-second clips of songs, add them to their favorites list for future consideration, or purchase songs.
Songs cost between 16 and 31 TRU-Units each. This equates to $0.80 to $1.55 each. There is no fee incurred for browsing the music service or previewing songs, but only 15 songs can be purchased each day. Inmates are permitted to spend up to 60 minutes per day in the music folio, although there is a maximum of 15 minutes per session and only 30 songs can be previewed per day. If any songs aren’t available for immediate download, when the prisoner logs in to the music folio the next day they will automatically download to their MP3 player.
Each MP3 player also has an imbedded security function which disables the device if stolen. This is effected through requiring prisoners to reconnect and revalidate their MP3 player every 14 days. This is accomplished by either purchasing a new song or clicking the revalidate button within the music folio. If the device isn’t revalidated, it will deactivate. A deactivated device will not permit any operation, including use of the FM radio.
Each housing unit has charging stations in the common area for general inmate usage. When using the charging station, it is best to keep an eye on the MP3 player to ensure it doesn’t get stolen. A good way of dealing with this issue is to tie a bright string to the device or place a brightly colored sticker on its clip. Another good option when using the email service is to connect the MP3 player to the USB cable so that it will charge while you are emailing.
If the MP3 player freezes, hold down the power button for 30 seconds. This will force a hard reset. Usually this will resolve the issue. If this doesn’t work, and the MP3 player is still in the 60 or 90 day warrantee period (depending on model), you should immediately present it to Trust Fund staff and ask them to either replace it or be allowed to mail it to the Advanced Technologies Group for repair.
If the MP3 player is outside of the warrantee period, you should bring it to the best electronics guy at your prison and ask them to take a look at it. They might be able to fix it or simply replace the defective part with spare parts. If this doesn’t work, you can then probably sell the MP3 player to the electronics guy for $5 to $15, who will then use it either for parts or as a battery pack.
You can’t have more than one active MP3 player at one time, but you can purchase a new one and replace your old one with it. This is often done in the case of wanting to upgrade to a MP3 player with more hard drive space or when you break the old one and want to replace it.
Note that MP3 player access can be restricted for a specific period of time due to a prison rule infraction.
When you leave prison you can take your MP3 Player with you, but you will have to mail it to the Advanced Technologies Group, and pay a $15 fee, for them to remove the 14-day revalidation security feature.
For more information on MP3 players and other aspects of life in prison, Contact Us.