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Encartele adds “CIDNET Letters” Inmate Mail Scanning Solution to Upgrade Lee County Jail

MONTROSE, IA – February 17, 2021  

Inmates at the Lee County Jail will now receive their mail electronically, and without the inclusion of contraband materials. Parent company Encartele, Lee County’s correctional communications vendor, has provided CIDNET Letters, a new application designed to digitize inbound inmate mail, which was enabled on Tuesday 2/2/21.

In the few days since, more than 100 pieces of mail have been digitized by jail staff.

As Encartele President Scott Moreland explained, “CIDNET Letters is a low-cost alternative to other inmate mail solutions. With our app, there is no mail-forwarding, meaning facilities don’t pay for third-party workers to sort through their mail. This means facilities of any size can afford to digitize their mail.”

The county’s partnership seems stronger than ever, and both sides are excited for the increased efficiency CIDNET Letters will bring in the years to come.

“This will drastically increase safety by limiting the possibility of contraband,” Jail Administrator John Canida said, “It also limits the amount of extra property the inmates will have in their cells.”

Affordable Mail Scanning for Corrections

The first letter was scanned by Lee County Jail staff on Tuesday 2/2/21, and being so close to Valentine’s day, it’s appropriate that the message was a love letter from a contact to an inmate. But unlike a normal letter, it’s possible that the writer knew exactly when the inmate had read the message, thanks to the “read-receipts” native to CIDNET.

The document scanner was already owned by the correctional facility, meaning they didn’t need to purchase any additional equipment to start using this new inmate mail scanning feature. Under some contracts, Encartele will provision a scanning device.

Pen-pals outside of the jail can still write letters to the address listed below, but from now on, all mailed correspondence will be scanned into CIDNET. To create a CIDNET account, inmate contacts can visit this website: https://www.cidnet.net/friends-and-family-portal.

2530 255th Street

PO Box 218

Montrose, IA 52639

One unexpected bonus of CIDNET Letters is the tie-in with inmate messaging app CIDNET Mail. The physical correspondence uploaded into the system is organized into a conversation view, so the external party who sent the letter can tell exactly when the inmate read their letter.

Combine that with the fact jail staff don’t need to wheel a cart around and pass out mail and it’s easy to see why Lee County Jail was eager to start using the upgrade.

To learn more about CIDNET Letters, or any other Encartele products, visit: https://www.cidnet.net/inmate-mail-scanning.

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Send CIDNET Messages with Data Instead of Credits!

What’s Happening

In the past, CIDNET Customers could purchase Data (by the Megabyte) and Credits in order to conduct video visitations and send messages through CIDNET. Now, customers will only need to buy data in order to use both video visitation and messaging. Credits are no longer available for purchase, and any owned by customers have been automatically converted into data at an equal exchange rate.

How it will Affect You

For those of you who are familiar with how our messaging payment system works, this might take a little getting used to. Instead of every message costing a credit to read and write, the Megabytes (MB) used to transfer your message to the inmate will be subtracted from your data balance.

Here’s an example: if you send a message, 0.3 MB of data will be subtracted from your account. Reading a message sent by an inmate will cost the same amount of data.

TO BE CLEAR: We’re not removing messaging, and we’re definitely not trying to scam you out of the messages you rightfully paid for. Reading and Sending messages will still cost the same as they always have, but from now on, you’ll be buying and using data instead of credits.

Screenshots of Everything that Changed

If you log in to your CIDNET account today and see that the Credit Purchasing fields have disappeared from the Add Data screens, this is why. There is a new section that will help you buy as much data for messaging as you need.

Why it’s Happening

We’ve had a number of customers reach out to us saying that they’d like to transfer their credit balance into data, or their data balance into credits, and we came to the conclusion that it will be better in the long-term to switch all CIDNET services to data-based payment structures.

In addition, we’re planning future updates to CIDNET to allow for picture and video-messaging. For those new services, credits won’t work as the payment structures, so switching now also helps sets the foundation for new and exciting services.

The Exchange Ratio of Credits to Data

For those of you who had purchased credits prior to this change, you might be wondering how much data we’re going to give you in exchange for each credit. That’s a fair question. Every standard message sent through CIDNET requires approximately 0.3 MB of data to reach the other party. So given this information, for every credit we subtract from your account’s credits balance, we’re going to add 0.3 MB to your data balance.

To illustrate this, consider the following example: If you had 30 credits prior to this update, we will exchange those credits for 10 MB of data. That data can then be used for messaging or remote visitations.

The Bottom Line

Credits are a thing of the past. Although they made messaging simple to price and explain, they don’t really fit in with our expanding communications platform. For that reason, we’re removing the ability to purchase credits and exchanging any customer-owned credits for their equivalent value in data (MB).

Messages will now require data in order to be sent and read, and data can be purchased at any time on the CIDNET Public Portal. If you have any questions, please reach out to our support team.

iPhones and Android App Updates

From now on, the CIDNET Public Portal will support video visitation on iPhones. In addition, customers using the Android App will need to update their applications to the latest version (2.0) available on the Google Play Store.

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Blair County’s Inmate Phone System Unravels Conspiracy

Hollidaysburg, PA – July 1, 2018

Time flies when you’re solving crimes. In the one year since CIDNET was installed in Blair County Prison, Encartele’s software has already helped law enforcement foil an arson/murder plot, according to Charlotte Ames of WTAJ.

By monitoring calls coming from the prison, the Blair County District Attorney’s office gained enough evidence to levy charges against a 23-year-old Pennsylvanian detainee.

Greg Bock of the Altoona Mirror reports that the detainee was already facing a child rape case when he allegedly used the inmate phones at Blair County to contact his friend and his mother to solicit them to retaliate against the victim witnesses in his trial.

Because Encartele’s inmate phone platform records both sides of every call, investigators were able to turn the detainee’s own words against him. This strategy was confirmed according to Detective Randy Feathers.

In addition to aiding law enforcement officers’ efforts to catch offenders, Encartele has provided a kiosk to aid Blair County’s large portion of inmates suffering from mental health disorders. According to Bruce Erb of the Altoona Mirror, 36 percent of the 281 inmates in the facility had a mental health diagnosis prior to incarceration. Encartele’s kiosk is used by inmates to request mental health after care.

Recently, Blair County promoted one of their own to the office of warden. Abbie Tate, former treatment supervisor and organizer of the facility’s work release program, has recently been hired as the first female warden of Blair County Prison, following Michael Johnston’s retirement.

Tate has been working in and around the facility for 13 years and has been the primary point of contact between the prison and Encartele. She was also deputy warden of the facility during its transition process.

“Switching to Encartele has helped make our facility more efficient due to their outstanding support and service.”

While Tate has long supported the county’s technological innovation, she’s also consistently advocated for reform. Before becoming warden, she organized and managed the facility’s work-release program.

More about Encartele Inc

Encartele is an inmate telephone company and telecommunications equipment supplier based in La Vista, Nebraska. Their mission is to develop and deliver innovative technology solutions to correctional agencies. Encartele’s many years of experience in this industry provides them with a unique perspective on the needs of correctional facilities – especially when it comes to the untapped efficiencies therein.

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Help us Wish Cass County Jail a Happy 1600th Video Visitation!

At the time of this press release, Cass County Jail will have completed its 1600th video visitation. Since the CIDNET smart jail platform was first installed in Cass County on Dec. 21, 2017, the 110 bed jail has averaged a staggering 10.48 visitations per day. If increasing inmate-to-family contact was the goal, Encartele’s smart jail platform has delivered.

“We used to have to turn away visitors on visiting day, but now since they can video chat from home, that rarely happens anymore,” Jail Administrator Jeff Lickei said.

The smart jail platform has also kept inmate families closer, especially during difficult periods.

“One inmate watched her brother’s last breath. The inmate’s brother was in a motorcycle accident and was in a vegetative state. It was emotional and hard, but she didn’t have to miss it due to being in jail,” Sgt. Amber Gray recalled.

Since the system was installed, Cass County staff have quickly adopted the software. Administrator Nancy Gamache handles updating the facility’s digital signage campaigns, while Jackie McClane and Jeff Lickei handle Commissary and Grievance electronic forms. Additionally, inmate medical requests are completely segregated within the system, so that only the HIPPA-approved medical staff see them.

“I thought that there would be a learning curve for the inmates and staff, but it is so easy to use that the first day went off without a hitch,” said Lickei.

The platform is also changing the way the staff at Cass County work, by cutting down on the paperwork involved in operating a county jail. As mentioned above, CIDNET offers built-in Commissary and Grievance form solutions that cut down on paper circulating in the facility. In addition, visitation scheduling is a nearly automated process.

“The scheduling is awesome. Our lobby is less crowded now, even though inmates receive visits on every day of the week instead of just Mondays and Fridays,” Jail Administrator Jackie McClane said.

These first few months have been an exciting time for both CIDNET and Cass County. In truth, this kind of correctional success would have been impossible without the hard work and dedication of the county’s staff—so from all of us here at Encartele: Happy 1600th Video Visitation, Cass County.

Here’s to 1600 more in the years to come.

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The CIDNET App is Now on the Google Play Store

La Vista, NE – May 11, 2018

54 percent of Encartele’s friends and family customers use an Android device to access their accounts, and now they can do so through CIDNET’s Google Play Store app.

“When customers use the Android app, we can guarantee a fully-functional video visitation experience,” app developer Chris Petree says. “But if they try to access CIDNET through the Chrome browser on their phone, we can’t ensure the same level of quality.”

The CIDNET app boasts many improvements over the traditional phone-browser experience. For one thing, there’s no need to keep track of open tabs or remember account login information. It’s a much more streamlined user experience. In addition, the official CIDNET app has controls and input fields that have been optimized for Android users.

There’s also the added benefit of notifications. Previously, the only notifications available to CIDNET customers were delivered to the user’s email. Now, whenever a new message is received or a video visitation is approved, the customer can get a notification sent straight to their phone.

“Anything customers currently do through our website can now be done through our app. It’s completely compatible,” Petree says.

Plans for an Apple IOS version of this app are also in the works, even though IOS users make up a significantly smaller portion of CIDNET’s customer base as compared to Android users. Encartele predicts that the IOS app will be ready for release at the end of next quarter.

More about CIDNET

Currently, the CIDNET platform supports only the Chrome Browser on modern laptop and desktop PCs. The CIDNET app requires Android 4.1 or higher, and works best using Wi-Fi.

More about Encartele Inc

Encartele is an inmate telephone company and telecommunications equipment supplier based in La Vista, Nebraska. Their mission is to develop and deliver innovative technical solutions to correctional agencies. Encartele’s many years of experience in this industry provides them with a unique perspective into the needs of correctional facilities – especially when it comes to the untapped efficiencies therein.