Families of Hampden County, Massachusetts inmates don’t have to strain their budgets anymore to stay in contact with their loved ones, thanks to the FCC. A 15 minute call used to cost $17, now inmates can talk for 30 minutes for only $3.60. GlobalTel Link, the inmate telephone service provider, was paying the jail a 74 percent commission on the cost of each call, which amounted to approximately $89,000 per month in the jail’s coffers according to an article posted on MassLive.com.
Sheriff Michael J. Ashe Jr., who runs the jail, was not happy with the FCC’s ruling; he even went so far as to threaten to eliminate the inmate’s telephone service. Responding to a MassLive inquiry, the communications officer for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department said that it costs the department $165,487 per year in administrative costs to maintain telephone services for inmates and the remainder of the money from commissions is used to fund various programs for inmates. Critics, however, cite the bloated Hamden County Sheriff’s Department large, 27-person administrative staff, each of whom earns a six-figure salary, as the reason the Sheriff needed the commissions from GlobalTel Link.
Inmates still have access to telephones to contact their families, however, there is no word yet if the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department will maintain the programs that that were funded by the high commissions.
Dallas-based Securus Technologies is proving to be the leader in inmate communications technology with its latest platform. The new VOIP protocol is taking the civil and justice industry by storm.
The technology, considered the largest in the world, is steadily breaking records with its audio and video call service. The prisons that use Securus, use the service exclusively. This saves time and money, and it also makes using the platform much easier. Stricter security is used with the VOIP service, and everyone making and receiving calls are subject to scrutiny.
The Securus system utilizes hundreds of applications, and any prison is equipped to use the platform. All individuals involved are pleased with the platform. Inmates say the VOIP helps them stay in contact with their loved ones. Due to security measures, all inmate calls, excluding the ones with their attorney, are kept on file for 10 years. This is a much-needed measure in the event a situation arises and records are needed.
The system is equipped with other safety measures including a monitoring system to report unauthorized use. It also provides automatic updates. Protocol breaches are also picked up by the system. The new and improved communications system has stopped a number of crimes.
Inmate communications is an important aspect of an inmate’s rehabilitation process. Inmates who communicate with their relatives are even better placed to rehabilitate faster and to have a reduced chance of recidivism. Communication helps inmates and their relatives to catch up with each other’s lives.
Despite the importance of inmate communications, there are a lot of issues that face the industry. To begin with, many jails sign contracts with a single service provider who takes the monopolistic advantage to set high call rates. Users are forced to accept the burden since they lack cheaper options.
Another issue reported by pissedconsumer.com facing the industry is scammers. Apparently, some companies use the frustration often encountered by families trying to communicate with incarcerated relatives to scam them. The firms usually ask for high account opening rates and service charges. Even after family members struggle to cover the expenses, the companies fail to connect them to their incarcerated relations.
Another case involves dropped calls. When a call goes through, the caller may experience a call drop due to different reasons. In many cases, call drops prevail when one cannot be connected due to incompatibility issues of the communication devices. In such cases, it has been reported that inmate communications service providers do not refund the money charged to the caller.
Inmate communication service providers are profit making entities. Without proper regulations, they tend to charge their clients unfairly. In some cases, they have been reported to make payments to correctional officers to have their contracts renewed.
IC Solutions is a leading provider of inmate communications and inmate management services. The firm offers a broad range of communication services such as video visitation, account set up, and phone calls.
IC Solutions’ services are significantly cheap compared to other inmate communication providers. To improve their user experience, they have a 24-hour customer support center that handles issues on billing, payments, and opening accounts.
In October 2014, an incisive new podcast reminded American audiences that radio journalism is still one of the most compelling mediums for news reporting, investigation and social justice.
Serial is a podcast that was created as a companion to This American Life, the acclaimed public radio program that also ran for two seasons as a series on the Showtime cable television channel. According to PR News Serial has been widely acclaimed for bringing out issues that show deep dysfunction within American institutions in charge of delicate affairs; specifically overzealous criminal prosecutions and the strange approach to under-the-table diplomacy during wartime.
During the first season of Serial, each episode briefly introduced listeners to Global Tel-Link as the provider of prepaid calling services from prison telephones. With about 40 hours of recorded calls made from prison, it is safe to say that Global Tel-Link was instrumental to the production of Serial’s debut season.
Shortly after the final episode of Serial’s first season, a report published by financial news outlet Bloomberg estimated the cost of the prison phone calls used by the Serial production team. At 89 cents per minute and a connection fee of $3.95 per call, Global Tel-Link pocketed around $2,500, although the company did not respond to inquiries by Joshua Brustein of Bloomberg.
Although Serial did not make Global Tel-Link’s exorbitant calling rates a part of their investigation, the company has come under fire by various news reporting outlets and the Federal Communications Commission. As a result, per-minute rate caps went into effect; however according to Al.com, Global Tel-Link and other carriers that provided phone services to the imprisoned have retaliated with lawsuits and excessive service fees.
Companies such as Global Tel-Link keep the lucrative prison phone racket going in the United States; perhaps this industry and its players could be the focus of a future Serial production.
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.
The extremely popular podcast Serial shed light onto the communication system within the prison system. If you have not listened to this program, it essentially involves telephone calls between a reporter and an inmate that detail a murder investigation. The program mentions Global Tel-Link as the company that is providing the phone call system. Read full article on Bloomberg.com.
If you are fortunate enough not to have a loved one as an inmate in the prison system, you are likely unaware of one of the daily challenges that inmates and their loved ones face. This is the ridiculously high rates for phone calls involving the prison system. Because GTL is one of the only companies in the US that provides these services, it is able to essentially charge families and inmates whatever it wants for them to make a phone call. If you talk to any of the inmates or their families, you will hear that they understand they must deal with the restrictive life of being incarcerated. The thing no one expects when they go to prison is that they will have to pay an arm and a leg to be able to call their families.
For a very practical reason, this practice is unsettling. Credible research studies have shown that inmates who are unable to regularly communicate with the support network are much more likely to return to their criminal ways after prison. Inmates who are released, going years in isolation without any contact with family makes them more vulnerable and a higher risk to society upon release. Despite this research, there is little hope for change in the ways that Global Tell-Link does business. Unfortunately, it will likely take government intervention in order to force this company to do the right thing.space Prisoners and their families hope this happens sooner rather than later. For more info, refer to mythreecents.com’s review about Global-tel-link.
We all know that we need to keep in touch with family members who are in jail, and we also wanted to make sure that we had the best kind of service for that. We had to sign up with someone, and we signed up with Keefe Group. We have their account going right now because we have multiple people to talk to, and we wanted to make sure that we were going to be able to to get in touch when we wanted to.
The Keefe Group phone calls that we make go right through to the jails because we tell them which place to call. It is very easy for us to get the calls to work, and we can all get around the phone if we need it. That means that we can help everyone stay in touch, and we can all hear the people on the other end because the call quality is so good.
We have been calling every couple of days because of the way that we have our schedules set up, and we are always able to get an operator on the phone to start our calls. We all show up ready for a good call, and I place the call and talk to the operator. That makes it easy for us all to hear them, and then we can talk for as long as we need to.
We have been using Keefe Group for a long time, and I think that we are going to keep using them for as long as we can. We have needed a way to chat with family, and now we are able to place calls at will. This is the fastest and simplest way to get the calls through, and it helps us keep the family together. Learn more about Keefe, visit Prisoncensorship.info.