Can You Watch Netflix in Prison?

Can You Watch Netflix in Prison?

What would be better than some TV for relaxation when in jail? We all have some TV shows that keep us glued to the screen, and if not, there are sports, which are sure to have at least once caught you at a bar with a jersey on, rooting for your favorite team. TV brings a lot to our lives, creating a whole culture and bringing with it fantasy, celebrity, stardom, and legions of fans all over the world.

Before Netflix burst into the scene, movies were already big, but it revitalized the market by providing movies on demand through the net. Now people subscribe to apps and get access to unlimited number of movies and series, through multiple platforms including Disney Hulu and Netflix.

Inmates, too, were born and raised within the same television and movie culture as the rest of us. This means that they too, need some television privileges where they can watch something on television.

To understand whether an inmate can watch Netflix in prison, we first have to understand the possibility and freedoms associated with television and movies while in prison to make us understand whether inmates can access Netflix in prison.

Let’s take a peep!

What are the Available TV Freedoms in Prison?

Inmates have access to TV liberties while incarcerated, subject to restrictions as to when and what they can watch. Certain jail facilities will allow each inmate to buy their own small TV set, which can be watched with headphones on. This is mainly done in security facilities where inmates do not have a lot of freedom to move around within the facility.

Other jail facilities will allow inmates to get a television for the cell provided by the prison. In contrast, other facilities will provide a television set for the inmates in a common room.

The common room television set comes with some problem, as gangs and the top echelon OG’s of the facility will control it. This means they will control what and who will watch the television. Therefore, the common area TV cannot be relied on; it can lead to confrontations and gang fights.

However, for inmates in facilities where they are allowed to get television sets in their bunkers, inmates have a better chance at watching the TV at the common room, as it will be less in demand. Moreover, those who cannot afford one have a chance at catching up with their favorite shows.

For those with a television set at the common rooms, an inmate can access a few channels, while those with television sets in their cells will have access to BOP and educational channels mostly. The best option to access some better channels is on the television sets allowed by the facility in the inmate bunks. Inmates can get a 13-inch television for as low as $10 or cheaper, which can be sent over to them by their friends and families, and they will be well on their way to accessing their favorite shows.

It is important to note that there are rules as to when inmates can watch the TV while incarcerated.

Can You Watch Netflix in Prison?

On whether inmates can watch Netflix while incarcerated, the answer is both yes and no, as explained below.

By the time Netflix came into the limelight, the internet was not yet that big. This meant that Netflix still dealt in DVDs. To get a better market position for their company, while competing with blockbuster, Netflix had an offer where you could order movies by placing them in a queue.

What would happen was that you would get three DVD’s at a time for $8, and after returning them, get the other three. This service is still available, and for the more intelligent inmates, a great option to access some Netflix prison shows.

Sometimes the facility may provide an option for a new movie every day, which is chosen by a committee of inmates. As long as the movie is G, PG and PG-13, the inmates can watch one each day.

However, inmates cannot access Netflix through television in security facilities. There is no option for it; however, lately more and more jails are incorporating the internet as part of their systems, and providing more avenue towards inmates in terms of movies.

Netflix in Jail – How Inmates Can Get Netflix

A Florida-based company came up with a company JPay; a common platform for making payments online for inmates incarcerated at most security facilities in America. The company helps friends and loved ones of inmates to deposit money into the inmate’s commissary, and send messages through emails to an inmate.

Apart from sending money and emails, JPay also provides video services, where some facilities offer inmates the opportunity of meeting and conversing with their family and friends online through video conferencing.

Correctional facilities providing JPay services have kiosks where inmates can check their account balance and purchase commissary items and phone credit.

Recently JPay has come with a tablet service, which after a security facility agrees can be provided to the inmate. The tablet can be put to a lot of use, and as it is already from JPay company with internet services, meaning they can provide a database full of things the inmates would find interesting. This they can access through synching the tablets with the kiosk and purchase plus download interesting features and programs.

Inmates who get their hands on the JPay tablets can download a bunch of stuff from audiobooks, emails, photos, videos, reading materials, and yes, access movies.

The freedoms with which inmates can access tablets vary from facility to facility, and some may limit certain levels of access, leaving only books and educational materials accessible to inmates.

It is worth noting that tablets are not cheap at all, and will cost an inmate a lot. The tablets come in free of charge for interested inmates, however they charge for a lot of services found within the tablet. You can get a song through a JPay tablet at around $2.50 per song. In the end, the inmate may end up spending quite some money to access services brought by the tablet, although they got it free.


On the question of whether or not an inmate can watch Netflix, we can conclude that the live streaming would not be available. This does not mean that they cannot watch movies while in prison. Until security facilities can ensure security is maintained if the inmates are given unlimited access to the internet, then Netflix will stay unavailable within prisons for a long time. For now, they will either have to order it from the Netflix DVD service or access movies from the JPay database at a cost, of course.

Inmates can get some assistance from their friends and families in paying for any services used in the tablets by sending the inmate money into their commissary.