Inmates incarcerated in prisons across the state of New York will receive a free tablet, as part of a project to boost education schemes in jail.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said on Wednesday (31 January) that approximately 51,000 inmates across 54 facilities within the state will be eligible to receive one of the tablets.

The tech gadgets will be provided to the state by Florida-based firm JPay Inc. at no cost to taxpayers, DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annucci said when he unveiled the plan during a state budget hearing.

"The contract includes the company providing each inmates a tablet free of charge," the department said in a statement posted on Twitter.

"The tablet initiative is not dependent on the budget as there are no state funds being used, nor is the Department taking commissions."

The Associated Press reported DOCCS officials confirmed the tablets will come pre-loaded with educational material and will allow inmates to purchase music, e-books and videos from JPay through an electronic account system which is being set up.

Annucci described the the move as "groundbreaking", adding officials believed the introduction of tablets will leave inmates better prepared for re-entry into the outside community.

However, while inmates will be able to send and receive emails via the devices, the tablets will not allow them to access the internet.

According to WKBW, the tablets will also enable inmates to access services that would allow them to file a report under the Prison Rape Elimination Act or place a commissary order.