Keefe Group has been serving the prison industry since 1975 through its various affiliates by supplying personal hygiene products, clothing, and electronics. The company is also responsible for providing telecommunication and inmate communication solutions across the US. From footwear to computer software to jail management systems, the correctional industry has a myriad of needs and the Keefe Group has effectively capitalized on that. With affiliates such as Keefe Commissary Network, Advanced Technologies Group, and Keefe Supply Company, the group has maintained a monopoly for quite some time.
Over its years of operations, the Keefe Group has come under scrutiny with various allegations coming up. The most notable is the corruption scandal that involved Ex-Commissioner, Chris Epps and Cecil McCrory. Charges were brought against these two when it was discovered that the then-commissioner was directing contracts towards McCrory’s G.T Enterprises. The connection here is that Centric Group, the parent company of the Keefe Group, acquired G.T Enterprises. There have been other corruption allegations since then, but the Keefe Group has never faced charges.
Some prisoners and their relatives have complained about the high prices of products and the domination of the Keefe Group. As much as commissary services are necessary for the smooth-running of prison facilities, I believe that there should be a way for the system to work with private contractors without burdening inmates and their families. One recommendation of improving the situation that I agree with is to have competitive bids for contracts that exceed $100,000.
The Keefe Group performance is not without upsides that have benefited the prison system, though. One notable achievement is its packaging services that have allowed inmates to get food supplies that no longer come in hazardous metal cans. Keefe Group also has exclusive rights to sell song downloads, music players, prepaid debit cards, and process inmate deposits. For more information about Keefe Group, visit corrections.com to have a company overview and read the news article on cdispatch.com.
More and more prisons are turning to video visitation as a way to minimize physical contact with visiting population. While this may relieve some of the stress from prison officials, but it causes a lot of controversy between inmates and inmate families. Many inmates thrive on the ability to have physical contact with their family and enjoy a friendly face to face visit. Unfortunately, many families are putting a stop to this, which is causing quite a bit of tension and confusion.
Even the staff in these facilities are conflicted about whether or not removing contact visits would be beneficial to the facility, but what will it cause when it comes to inmate behavior?
Here are what staff members and other power that be think about the changes.
The Positive Effects of Physical Contact Visits
Contact with family is essential to the rehabilitation process. This is the only physical contact inmates have with other people and it can be extremely beneficial to the human psyche. Many prison officials openly state that no contact visits do not decrease the likelihood of contraband entering the prison. Prisoners still find a way to smuggle drugs in. Removing contact visits creates more stress and increases the likelihood that prisoners will find another method of smuggling in larger amounts of drugs.
Many prison officials are taking the side of keeping contact visits, but increasing security and after visit searches to ensure there is no contraband smuggled in.
Other security personnel feels that screening and checking visitors better will be a more beneficial way to handle the contraband issue. This is because inmates look forward to visitation, which causes them to have better behavior when they are walking on the compound.
Allowing face to face inmate visitations greatly reduces the violence inside of prison walls. Many security officials believe that removing face to face visitations will increase the number of violent acts inside of prisons, as well as an increase in inmate physical attacks leading to death.
While reducing face to face visitations may reduce visitor to inmate contribution transmission, while others feel that the violence inside of prisons will increase dramatically.
Global Tel-Link is a communications company that many jails and prisons use so that inmates can call home. However as reported by PR News, it’s an expensive service, and it just keeps getting more expensive with each passing month. There is a loading fee of $25, which is highway robbery (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs3WHNzOcj4) in itself. You shouldn’t have to pay a fee on top of the additional charges that the company makes you pay just to talk to your loved one who is in jail.
One time, my boyfriend tried to call five times with each call failing after I answered. When you answer the call and accept it, your account is charged. Even if you don’t talk to the person, the money for the call is deducted. I called customer service, and no one would refund the money that was spent for a non-existent call. After talking to a supervisor, I finally got most of the money back after they charged a $5 refund fee. It also took about a month for the money to go back on my debit card. When the money was back on the card, my boyfriend was out of jail. Global Tel-Link is the most frustrating company around and should be investigated for it’s corrupt communications efforts. Read more article about GTL and their practices on al.com.
By their own admission to guilt, payment of bribes to state prison officials and police officers in Keefe Group Commissary, Joseph Deese and Edward Dugger both pleaded guilty before a Federal Judge. Their admission involved details that they were conspiring to pay kickbacks to now defunct Corrections Officials, James V. Crosby and Allen W. Clark. Dugger had been an associate of James Crosby back in the days when Crosby was appointed by then Governor Jeb Bush.
Through the relationship between Crosby and Dugger and Crosby putting Dugger in touch with the Police Benevolent Association, a union to represent the guards of corrections facilities in Florida, Dugger struck up a healthy number of insurance sales to clients he added to his Allstate Insurance business roles. This was a beneficial selling model to prison guards and others who worked inside the prison system.
There is a fine line between ethics and special favors through bribes with products, opportunities and services as Crosby and Dugger found themselves too tempted to avoid when the prison gave them a vending opportunity for Keefe through an introduction by Crosby of Dugger and Deese to the Keefe executive board who made purchasing contracts.
The vending business was started in 2004 as Dugger and Deese have admitted to. The services provided snacks for prison visitors throughout the Florida Prison system. The favor was offered by Crosby and Clark so that they would in turn receive cash payments of between $1000 to $14,000 on a monthly basis. This sales opportunity was so profitable that another bribe was also agreed to for sharing with Jack Donelly of the Keefe Commissary executive board at the time, to the tune of $260,000 to $1.5 million annually.
All of these men have lost much over these charges as they were caught on tape recordings of their discussions of the details of these under the table deals, which were played back as evidence in the trial that took place in the summer of 2016. Learn more about Keefe Group, check out cdispatch.com.