ALBANY, NY - The Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations is asking for documentation to prove the recent initiative to give tablets to inmates of state prisons are in fact free. In a letter to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's (DOCCS) Acting Commissioner Anthony Annuci, State Senator Terrence Murphy, who chairs the committee, requested a copy of the executed contract between New York State and the vendor JPay.
Senator Murphy said, "There are many questions surrounding this proposal including the role of taxpayer funds. New Yorkers deserve to know for sure that their hard earned dollars are not being used to buy presents for convicted criminals."
Upon its initial investigation the Committee found that the contract was not located on the Open Book website. However, two contracts between DOCCS and JPay Inc are listed totaling more than $9,000,000. This portal is managed by the Office of the State Comptroller and lists every executed State contract. As of Thursday, there was no record of any such contract between DOCCS and JPay. Furthermore, the open data site for the Statewide Financial System did not display any such contract.
"New York State's budget is one of the largest in the world," Murphy added. "Providing proper transparency and accountability as to the funding of programs must be a priority. The Committee will use all of its power to get to the bottom of whether a dime of taxpayer dollars is being used to support this program."
In addition to the contract that is referenced on the DOCCS' website, the Committee has also requested copies of any RFAs or RFPs that were promulgated for the initiative in question, as well as any and all responses to the requests.
DOCCS has been asked to provide the contract by February 15th. You can read the full letter here.