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.