Following a switch in contractors that reportedly caused prisoners to lose access to music that they purchased, an inmate in a Florida prison is suing the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) in a class action suit. William Demler claims that inmates were told they could keep the media permanently, The Verge reported.
Demler reportedly purchased about $569 worth of music — in addition to paying for the cost of the player. The digital music player program in Florida allowed inmates to purchase devices for $119 or $99 to play music, as well as acquire audiobooks and songs at a cost of $1.70 each. In total, inmates are said to have spent $11.3 million on files from 2011 to 2017.
The agency’s new provider, JPay, reportedly did not recognize those prior purchases, and the agency had inmates turn in their old music players. Prisoners, however, could pay to have the players mailed to another individual that wasn’t a prisoner, or purchase a CD with the music that could be mailed outside the prison. Both providers have been called the up-and-coming “iTunes of the prison world.”
The news comes months after over 300 prison inmates in Idaho received nearly $225,000 in JPay account credits through reportedly exploiting a system vulnerability. Those credits occurred when users put items in their online shopping carts and subsequently removed them in a way that applied the credit. According to reports, 50 prisoners received credits of over $1,000, and one inmate received a little below $10,000.
While some inmates’ families said it was a “glitch,” officials called it “intentional exploitation,” per an Associated Press report last year. JPay tablet accounts are used in U.S. prisons, provided to inmates through CenturyLink and JPay. By using the tablets, inmates can email friends and family, as well as play online games and buy music.