It’s not difficult to understand that the families of people who commit crimes across the country are usually in the lower socioeconomic strata. There is a prevailing sense that if you are poor in this country, the only way you can make money is to scam it or steal it. Many of the people who try to scam or steal get caught and thrown into prison. But the scamming and stealing does not stop there.
You’re probably unfamiliar with the company Global Tel-Link. According to PrisonTalk Forums, they are a $500 million per year telecommunications company. But you’re not going to contract them to provide you with Internet service or phone. They only exist to provide telephone services to prisoners inside the prison and their families. And they have a bigger scam (watch this YouTube video) going than any of the convicts ever did. And here you can find the plight of poor families with loved ones in prison.
Global Tel-Link is the only way for these families to communicate with their loved ones on the inside. Global Tel-Link ensures this by getting government contracts to provide telephone service while promising that same government kickbacks in the form of commissions off every call. The price is then passed on to the families of the prisoners with calls costing well over one dollar per minute.
This kind of squeeze can really crush a lower socioeconomic family. Many families cannot even afford to set up an account with Global Tel-Link, and the unfortunate few that do have to deal with terrible customer service and calls that are often dropped. This is a stunning example of corporate welfare, where the government outsources services with exclusive contracts to make certain companies wealthy by ensuring a lack of competition. It’s just another example in the United States of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. Visit https://action.aclu.org/global-tel and see what you can do.
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.
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.
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.
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
Prison escapes are the stuff of ledgend, and Hollywood is chock full of tales of remarkable escapes that ended well for the escapes, such as the Shawshank Redemption. But real life is rarely like the movies, and the tale of the escape of two killers from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facilty in Dannemora prison, which ended with one of the inmates dead and the other shot captured and spending the rest of his life in solitary confinement, has revealed some interesting details about the prison.
A report, as outline in the New York Daily Mag, released a year after the escape and recapture of the prisoners details exactly how the two inmates were able to escape the prison. The biggest key to Richeard Matt and David Sweat’s success seams to be the admiration and help of two of the prison’s guards, Joyce Mitchell, who was entranced by their charms, and Gene Palmer. Both guards were able to bring the men the tools they need to escape with the help of numerous inept and lazy guards.
Interestingly enough, one of the most unique aspects of the escape is that it was made possible because of the hobby of painting that the two men had taken up while in prison. Both men became exceptional artists due to the admiration for the art they had as well as the amount of free time they were able to devote to the hobby, and they developed fans. In particular, many of the guards and inmates admired Sweat’s incredibly detailed style of painted. Eventually this led to both Palmer and Mitchell smuggling tools into the prison so that they could hatch an escape plan.
The basic details of the plan are pretty straightforward, and involved using tools and makeshift dummies to escape through a series of intricate tunnels, but it is how they convinced the guards to help them that makes this story interesting.
Areas of the U.S. are currently looking into the best ways of handling secure inmate communications systems within jails in many of the states with high prison populations. The issue of smuggled cell phones has become so bad that a number of Republican Governors from across the U.S. recently signed an open letter calling for the Federal Communications Commission to introduce some form of blocking technology to avoid future issues with smuggled cell phones being used for criminal activities.
The latest state to discuss the problem is Indiana whose Governor Pence has joined calls for assistance from the FCC in battling this problem to create a secure system of communications for all inmates. Pence and his fellow governors who find themselves unable to combat this problem successfully are tied by an 80 year old law that prohibits the jamming of public airwaves without the express permission of the FCC, according to WBAA.
There are a variety of options available to corrections institutions that have been explored by many and even used in individual trial environments; the state of Mississippi has recently looked into the chances of whitelisting specific phone numbers using jamming technology that allows law enforcement calls to still be made when illegal communications are jammed. The main issues law enforcement feel could be aided by jamming illegal communications are the running of drug rings from within jails across the U.S.