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Study Details How telephone companies in local prisons hunt families of inmates



Photo: AP

A report released on Monday by the Prison Policy Initiative highlights the predatory practices of prison technology companies in city and district prisons, where inmates and their families continue to pay "astronomical prices", making phone calls that are convenient to the average consumer would not cost anything.

While the cost of a call from a state prison has declined steadily over the past decade, nationwide reform efforts have done little to curb foreign costs in local prisons, filled by a plethora of miserable defendants – prisoners not arrested because of Have been convicted for which they have been detained but can not afford a bail.

According to the study, the average cost of placement A call from a local jail is more than three times as high as a call from a state prison. However, some cases are more extreme than others. For example, in Illinois prisons, the cost of making a call is 52 times higher than in state prisons. In Arkansas, the cost is only three times higher, but a 15-minute call can cost up to $ 25.

Screenshot: Prison Policy Initiative

Speaking in 2017, Texas Supreme Court Supreme Judge Nathan Hecht found that about 75 were the case According to the Texas Tribune, percent of people in Texas prisons were not To be sentenced. The average cost of a 15-minute call from a Texas jail is $ 6.50, compared to $ 0.90 per minute in a state prison.

The exorbitant cost of prison inmates has long been a target of law enforcement lawyers who recognize the inappropriate rates for the predatory practices of detainee call providers. According to the study, these practices include the imposition of hidden fees designed to circumvent regulations that cut the rates of or what prisoners and their families pay per minute per call. These include "fees for opening an account, having an account, charging an account, closing an account, receiving a refund, [or] receiving a paper bill," write the authors of the study.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) noted that additional charges "may increase the cost of families keeping in touch with loved ones by up to 40%".

The study also notes how Securus, one of the largest providers of prison phones, bothers urging families of inmates to use their phone system in the most cost-effective manner:

Instead of encouraging families to use prepaid accounts To set up or add money to a depleted account, Securus manages the people instead of paying you for each call individually. By emotionally forcing family members to pay for individual calls rather than creating accounts, companies increase revenue. Other services, such as indicting families to hear voicemails from relatives in prison, similarly manipulate consumers and increase revenue from fees. Neither public safety nor "convenience" of consumers benefit from these unnecessary but highly profitable calling products.

The study attributes the price differences between jail calls and jail calls partly to the understanding of telephone companies that local officials who run prisons are characteristic of predatory contracts. For example, the report notes that most prisons can not afford expensive consultants to negotiate telecommunications contracts. "Local prisons are not much more expensive than state prisons," the report said. "Rather, telephone providers have learned to use the inherent weaknesses of local prisons as opposed to state prisons to approach the adversary."

However, prison service providers also have a high incentive to offer prison facilities a percentage of their revenue in the form of "commissions". As the Prison Policy Initiative states:

Prison telephone companies have begun offering prisons and prisons commissions to win contracts from companies they do not offer. They did not expect the sheriffs to become dependent on this new income. Businesses were forced into an "arms race" struggling to make more and more of their phone call revenue; the commissions offered approached more and more the value of 100%.

Another disgusting example is the relationship between prison operators and money transfer companies, which, as the report states, are primarily plaguing families of prisoners living in poverty. Payments to non-bank account jail-phone accounts are typically made through wire transfers from companies such as Western Union or MoneyGram, which increases the cost of transferring funds to certain prison telephone companies for which they receive one Kickback.

According to the report, Western Union and MoneyGram are demanding that both families be forced to charge $ 12 on Securus, while payments to other providers may only cost half. "The explanation is that Western Union and MoneyGram are charging part of this fee to the telephone companies, which the FCC wanted to prohibit," the report says, "Families and institutions would be entitled to call this hidden fee a form of exploitation." [19659004] Since prisons are not likely to be detained for long, the report concludes that families affected by high costs make it more difficult to exert political pressure on administrators negotiating telephone contracts. " Lawmakers – and subsequently the Public Utility Commissions and other civil society regulators and civil society organizations – pay little attention to the state's individual prisons or aggregate prison policies, "it says.

Read the full report of the Prison Policy Institute here .


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