JPay Lantern: Illuminating the Future for Prison Inmates

November 25, 2015

6:00 pm

How do you change the nature of corrections facilities? It's a question I sought to answer not long ago, and I had the good fortune to speak with JPay founder Ryan Shapiro about how he was building the company to innovate for families who wanted to make electronic payments directly into inmate accounts. about it.

Since we last spoke, he hasn't slowed down and JPay announced the official release of their newest platform, JPay Lantern. Built to be an educational initiative, Lantern is currently being deployed in Ohio prisons to enable the mass education of prison inmates via the JPay tablet, the JP5.

Developed in conjunction with the Correctional Education Association, Lantern uses a learning management system to host facility approved content, which is then downloaded and consumed by inmates on their JPay tablets. The team also decided to utilize the flipped classroom model used by numerous colleges and universities, wherein the cross functional infrastructure lets students and teachers correspond via technology.

One of the main benefits of Lantern is that it allows inmates to learn at their own pace, on their own time, and outside of limited classroom interactions. Students, then, have a legitimate chance of equipping themselves with the education needed for professional success upon their release back into society.

“Education is the key to reducing recidivism, and a reduction in recidivism is key to reducing our prison population,” says Ryan Shapiro, CEO of JPay. “Today’s programs are underfunded and reach too few inmates to have an impact. Lantern gets educational coursework and programing to inmates at any custody level, allowing for far more adoption from students interested in attaining certifications, college credits and eventually diplomas.”

In fact, correctional education has never been more important: studies show that inmates who received education while in prison were 43 percent less likely to become repeat offenders. Lantern is a gateway to that positive, education driven outcome. Using the JPay Lantern learning management system, instructors simply upload their semester, syllabus, course content, tests, and assignments, which are all downloaded to the tablet.

“We know how effective education is for improving inmate behavior and reducing recidivism, however many agencies have budget constraints or lack the resources to implement and manage a comprehensive program. Lantern is free to the inmates and has the scalability to serve an entire prison population,” says John Dowdell, Editor of the Journal of Correctional Education and Chair of Professional Development for the Correctional Education Association. “We’re seeing inmates who are excited to learn; they’re focused and committed to excelling each semester.  That’s what it’s all about.”

Here are some other facts about Lantern:

  • Lantern was piloted in six Ohio Correctional Institutions: Chillicothe, Grafton, Richland, Lake Erie, Mansfield Reformatory and Cuyahugo Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility.
  • Over 440 Inmates have enrolled in Lantern since the first semester, March 2015.
  • To date, over 1,280 college credits have been earned through Lantern.
  • Pilot courses include Introduction to Management, Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy from Ashland University.

By giving inmates educational opportunities, we can help boost their confidence and encourage ongoing participation, which leads to increased literacy, certifications, degrees, and a far better chance of landing a job once released from prison. At the end of the day, that’s the literal mission all prisons have: rehabilitation. JPay is trying to make that as easy as possible.

Image Credit: JPay Lantern video

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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988