Over the last 50 years, there has been an intense debate regarding the role of private contractors in the nation’s prison system. Many prisoner rights groups and prisoners themselves argue that these companies are only interested in maximizing profits, putting the interests of prisoners by the wayside and potentially imperiling the lives of those who need to rely on the services that these companies provide.
However, the companies themselves have a compelling case to make that, since the introduction of private contractors in the nation’s prisons, the conditions of the average prisoner have improved dramatically. This can be seen in virtually every aspect of prison life, from sanitation to communication services provided.
One company, Securus Technologies, has revolutionized the ways in which prisoners are able to stay in touch with their loved ones on the outside of prison. Do to the introduction of many systems, such as VoIP-based communications technology, Securus has been able to keep rates incredibly low while simultaneously generating significant revenues for the prisons in which it operates. In fact, Securus has been able to provide its client prisons with hundreds of millions of dollars in commissions per year, accounting for a significant fraction of all prison revenues in the United States.
This money goes directly to crucial operations of the institutions in which Securus does business. Many of the prison would not be able to run their phone systems at all without the commissions paid back by Securus to the prisons in which its systems are installed. This is a win-win situation for everybody. The inmates are able to make outgoing phone calls on high-quality lines at cheap rates and the prisons themselves are able to make up for significant budgetary shortfalls the collection of commissions outgoing phone calls.
At least in the area prison communications, the benefits of private contractors are clear.