Two Way Jpays! - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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Life On Death Row
Arguments for the Implementation of Two-Way Jpay tablets

For some time now, we've talked with Randy about the problems with slow running mail, and how that can affect relationships and families, especially when a loved one in the free world is sick, or going through some difficulty where reliable and frequent communication is necessary.

On Texas death row, inmates do not have access to telephones in the way that some inmates in general population do. Once every 90 days a death row inmate can put in a request for a 5 minute telephone call with someone on his visitation list. The inmate may have to wait for several weeks after the request before he's taken from his cell to the Captain's office, where the call is made. The call is made on 'hands free' with several guards present, and the only language permitted is English.

Some inmates feel this process is a lot of hassle, and therefore don't bother to take advantage of the privilege. However, for some inmates, their loved ones live outside of the US and there can be difficulties in travelling for visits for any number of personal reasons. In these cases, the 5 minute telephone call is something very valuable to both parties.  

As we write this we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to the credit of the Polunsky Unit Administration, inmates have been allowed a 5 minute phone call every couple of weeks in lieu of visitation. This ran reasonably smoothly, and we were very grateful for the privilege. However, on or around 29th April, the Unit went on lockdown due to several guards having tested positive for the virus. This will almost certainly mean that the telephone calls will be disrupted or postponed during the lockdown period, making communication even more difficult.

In the last few weeks, we've been thinking about the principal arguments for why two-way Jpay tablets should be made available to death row inmates, and to ALL inmates in Texas prisons. Since then, many of our group have come up with some good arguments/reasons as well, and letters will be rolled out within the next few weeks. It will most likely take a lot of letters and time to bring any attention to this, but nothing will change if we do nothing.

We have listed the main arguments below, and please keep your comments coming to us at, and thank you for all of your input so far. If you would like to be included in the list of people who send the letters, please contact us via our email address. We feel people should get talking about this because in other States, the Jpay tablets are allowed and seem to work well. So, the following arguments are what we came up with after discussing the issue with Randy...

  1. Two-way JPay tablets would relieve mail room pressure by allowing inmates to send and receive their own mail. We realise there are security issues in some cases, but the technology would allow for certain filters, blocks etc. There would also be the option to purchase magazines and books on the tablet, further cutting the mail room workload down.
  2. Two-way JPay tablets would provide alternate recreation for Ad-Seg inmates by allowing them to have access to music, TV, books, magazines, and educational material. Again, the technology supports any concerns over security, and filters/blocks can be used where needed.
  3. Two-way Jpay tablets supports families and relationships, and puts inmates in touch with family/friends in 'real time'. This can alleviate so much worry and stress on both sides, and foster a safer and less stressful environment for inmates and guards alike.   
  4. Two-way Jpay tablets should not be feared by the TDCJ...The technology should be embraced as it's been proven to be both safe and secure. Many other States are using two-way Jpay communication, and it works.  
  5. Two-way Jpay tablets provide income/revenue for the State.  

We began thinking about two-way Jpay tablets quite some time prior to the current pandemic we're living in, and cannot understand why Texas does not allow their use. Since then, with all of the worry for our loved ones in prisons and on death row, we realise the value of two-way Jpay even more. We are living in unprecedented times where inmates in all prisons are in danger from COVID-19, and being able to keep in touch with their families and friends would alleviate so much worry and stress on both sides.

We hope you will give this matter some thought, and thank you to everyone for joining in the letters we will be sending out.

As always, you can contact us on if you have anything you wish to add to this piece.

The friends of Randy E. Halprin

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