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.
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.
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.
I came across a report from a group that was in charge of reviewing the current prison system suggesting that the Mississippi Corrections Department should do away with the no-bid contracts. The task force that had five members was formed after a correction commissioner had been indicted on corruption allegations. The task force was deliberating various recommendations that it would offer to the governor, Phil Bryant and other law makers. Christopher Epps, former correction commissioner and Cecil McCrory, a businessman, had been linked to corruption revolving around prison contracts.
The co-chairman of this task force Andy Taggart, an attorney, stated that the recommendations were aimed at promoting transparency in the government. I learnt that the task force was trying to make corruption to be as difficult as possible. Currently, the department of corrections has a total of six no-bid contracts. Three of these contracts are held by the Managed and Training Corporation based in Utah to manage the prisons in Mississippi and two with Health Assurance LLC based in Jackson for medical services provision. The last one is held by the Missouri-based Keefe Group to offer Mississippi prisons with commissary services. (Read More)
About The Keefe Group
The Keefe Group via its affiliates; Keefe Commissary Network, Keefe Supply Company, Access Securepak, IC Solutions, Access Corrections and the Advanced Technologies Group is a leading national supplier to the correctional market. The Group supplies food products, electronics, personal care products, telecommunications, clothing, software solutions and technology to correctional institutions.
Ever since the year 1975, the Keefe Group has served the correctional market. It has been involved in pioneering the evolution of technology, products and packaging services. This was done with the aim of fitting to the needs of the correctional facilities found nationwide. It is committed to the corrections and every job at Keefe boils to the common goal of delivering cutting-edge solutions. These solutions are tailored to meet the unique needs of the market and satisfy it. View the Keefe vendor profile on Corrections.com.
Securus, one of the United States leading inmate communications company, now has more than 104,000 smart units in service at various prisons. The number is quite impressive since the smart units are still in their infancy, but it goes to show that those involved with progress can really move forward at an accelerated rate.
The units are not only there to help the inmates make calls or receive them, though that is a big part of their function. The communication unit holds tablets, video kiosks, booking software, and what the company is calling an ‘S-Phone,’ which is nothing more than a smartphone. These tools are meant to function much like anyone would expect them to once one hears what they are, but there are some major differences. For one, each one of these tools are encrypted with technology that allows the company to give prisons power to monitor. Of course, it does not mean that communications are spied upon but rather monitored by algorithms looking for certain keywords that might signal criminal activity. This is just one security measure, though there are others.
Of course, security was not the only thing that Securus was attempting to provide inmates and their family. The goal is to give inmates and their families an opportunity to really connect in a way that was not possible before. Inmates can now share videos of special moments like a ballet recital or a birthday. They would have missed these moments if they did not have these technologies available to them.
The cost of communication should decrease somewhat since it is a lot easier for Securus to provide the service to prisons. It may be possible for family members to visit the inmate through a smart device without even leaving home. This means that they do not have to drive or take a bus all the way to the jail just to see their loved ones. Securus is really changing the culture within the industry in a positive way, and there is probably more to come.
The U.S. patent office has issued two more patents to Securus Technologies, which is often dubbed as one of the most innovative firms in the prison communication industry. Interestingly, Securus Technologies has field more than 90 patents in the last three years. Of these, U.S. Patent office has approved 36 applications.
According to the CEO of Securus Technologies, Richard A. “Rick” Smith, the new patents will help the industry abridge communication gaps between inmates and their families. To date, Securus Technologies has nearly 247 patents related to prison communication, which makes it the holder of most number of patents in the industry. Both patents issued in June are multi-party tools allowing several users to use the system simultaneously.
Patent number 9,380,082 is titled, Remote Multi-Party and/or Event-Driven Visitation for Residents of Controlled Environment Facilities. As the name indicates, it allows inmates to participate in important events outside the prison facility through a live video link. As such, the system will help prisoners interact with their loved ones on important occasions including wedding ceremonies, birthdays, funerals and graduation etc.
As for the Patent number 9,386,146, it is titled, Multi-Party Conversation Analyzer and Logger. The system behind the patented technology uses the most advance techniques in signal processing and data-mining to detect significant anomalies in the communication network. For instance, it can detect callers outside prisons by matching their voice profiles to the recorded data. Accordingly, voice detection can monitor impostors and incidents of identity scams.
The CEO of Securus Technologies, Richard A. Smith, attributed the success of innovation to 200 software developers and 100 highly-skilled on-field technicians. Besides, Securus has a hard-working team of R&D and marketing specialists who contribute to the success of the product. Mr. Smith also claimed that customer feedback is always instrumental in developing successful innovative products.
The “War on Drugs” has been a miserable failure. There are more drugs on the street today than ever before, and there are more people in jail for drug-related charges than ever before. The battle against drug use is a play on words by the government. Nothing good has come out of this wasteful use of money unless the money that state departments of corrections make from the over-population in the prison system is considered. All the commission money that independent contractors pay state department of corrections should go directly to offsetting some of the costs of housing prisoners. Contractors like the Keefe Group and others have no-bid contracts, and they pay commissions for goods and services they provide, but the not all the money reaches the state department of corrections. Some commissions pad the pockets of unethical prison officials in many of the prison systems across the country.
The Keefe Group is broken down into several companies: The Keefe Commissary Network, Access Corrections, Keefe Supply Company, Advanced Technologies Group and IC Solutions. All the Keefe Group companies provide goods, food, and entertainment items to prisons in several states. The Keefe Group is awarded a contract without bidding against companies that offer the same services. The state of Mississippi is trying to eliminate no-bid contracts. The Mississippi State Department of Corrections wants all of their prison contracts to go through the bidding process in order to stop the unethical behavior that has been going on for years. See the Keefe vendor profile on Corrections.com.
The state of Mississippi is prosecuting high-level prison officials that have allegedly taken money because the practice of granting no-bid contracts was not regulated properly. Mississippi wants to hold all vendors accountable for where the money goes. Contractors like the Keefe group would have to file a disclosure form if money was paid to a consultant that helped secure a prison contract. For information about Keefe Group see; http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=39055
Inmate communications is very important because it gives the correctional facility monitoring and surveillance over inmate calls and quality telephone communications to inmates. A phone call can determine an inmates needs being met or staying in touch with their legal counsel. However, traditional calls can be very expensive and provide low quality services. Global Tel-Link is committed to an excellency in customer service satisfaction. Each year Global Tel-Link is responsible for handling millions of calls for thousands of customers. Customers can rest assured they will get every minute that they’ve paid for. Advanced technology features gives you cheaper phone calls for inmate communications.
Inmate Prepaid Services
Inmates can now purchase prepaid phone services through commissary. For a small processing fee and a one time payment inmates can get set prepaid calling intervals that work with landline and cellphone devices. Calls are clear and come in the form of traditional packages that are affordable for an inmate budget. If an inmate is released before all of his phone time is used they can have $5.00 deducted for a processing fee and have the remaining balanced refunded back to them.
These services also work for their families. They receive one complimentary call at which time they are prompted to create an Advance Pay account that allows prepaid services. For a small time fee and a minimum of $25.00 you can get the calling services that you need. Global Tel-Link has teamed up with JPay to offer even more features at an affordable rate. Together they are committed to excellency in inmate communications. In a recent online article Securus has continued to praise Global Tel-Link for superior high quality inmate correctional facility communications. Thousands of inmates and families continue to rely on Global Tel-Link each year for quality inmate telephone services.
You have a loved one in prison, which is bad enough, but then you discover that you are also being held as a hostage because of the exorbitant costs of staying in touch with them. In today’s world, everybody is used to have a cell phone and the competition for cell service is intense. That is why just about any cell carrier will offer you an unlimited amount of call time for as little as $30 to $40 dollars a month. However, if you are trying to call a loved on who is incarcerated, be prepared to get gouged.
Over two million people in the United States are jailed in either federal, state, and county correction facilities. More than 12 million people flow through this system each year and what this presents to the private companies that control the telecom services for the jails and prison in the United States is a captive money making opportunity. But they aren’t the only ones cashing in on this because it’s a money maker for the correction facilities too. This all happened because the phone service used in the prisons and jails was privatized. This privatization led to revenue sharing agreements between the private phone companies and the state and local governments that control those correction facilities that they operate in. Ultimately the revenue sharing also provided very little incentive for the state and local governments to discourage gouging the prison’s inmates and by proxy the inmate’s families for the “privilege” of speaking on the phone to each other.
Because of this, the Federal Communication Commission has taken some bold action and ordered rate caps be applied on all companies that provide calling services for inmates. These caps are to become effective March 17th for state and federal institutions and June 20th for local jails. In addition, The FCC has also placed caps on local as well as in-state long distance inmate calls as well as cut the caps by up to 50% for interstate long distance inmate calls.
To see the full article go to News-Press.com in the search box put Tell Mel: Inmate calls too expensive