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.
I don’t blame you for ignoring our prisoner population. Most people don’t even know anybody inside of a prison. But our society should be judged on how we treat our most vulnerable citizens. Those vulnerable populations include our prisoners because they usually come from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. There is a lot we can do to help them reintegrate into society in order to reduce crime rates across the country.
That’s why it breaks my heart to see this lawsuit levied against Securus Technologies. Securus is a Texas-based telecommunications company that provides services to law enforcement and criminal justice facilities across the country. This company has a great history of innovating software that makes prisoners lives easier while taking the burden off law enforcement.
Securus recently rolled out to incredible innovations. The first is video chat technology that allows inmates, friends and family to communicate like anybody would on the outside. It is an especially effective innovation for children who have a parent behind bars.
The second innovation helps law enforcement. A new software program can lock onto a person’s voice and deconstruct it to develop a vocal signature. That vocal fingerprint is then run through a database of recorded telephone calls. Every single phone call that the voice was involved with can be pulled up automatically for law enforcement review.
But Global Tel Link, Securus Technology’s biggest competitor, has filed a lawsuit against this innovative company. This lawsuit is completely frivolous and just gums up the works. It is the kind of distraction that can drag Securus down just a bit. The quality of prisoner lives is at stake.
Securus recently challenged Global Tel Link to a bake-off. Securus wants to show the world that it is the leader in prisoner telecommunications and that it has the right to use its innovations to help better people’s lives.
Drugs in prison put everyone in immediate danger from the visitors to my staff of corrections officers. Trying to stop the flow of drugs can be very challenging because the inmates are always looking to push the boundaries and to try new ways to get the contraband that they need. Other than increasing the amount of officers on duty, there was little we could do to identify who and how was responsible for the increase in drug flow to the inmates.
There is only so much an officer can do to keep drugs out of the jail. We have a strong police presence in the visitor center, and every person much go through a search before seeing an inmate. We check every piece of mail coming into the jail for any type of contraband. We even do surprise cell inspections to try and locate anything illegal the inmates are trying to hide.
Our superiors informed me and my team that this month we were going to have an additional resource in our efforts to stop drugs from getting to the jail. Securus Technologies was installing a new inmate call monitoring system that would enable us to listen more intently to when the inmates were on the telephone. Little did we know how valuable a resource this was going to be.
Securus Technologies is currently operating in over 2,600 prison systems, and their CEO Rick Smith says his thousand employees all work towards the objective of making the world a safer place for each of us to be living. That first week we heard chatter on the system concerning inmates sharing drugs in their cells, how inmates were in receipt of drugs, and how they hid the drugs inside their cells once they are able to get it from the outside.
My job as a fugitive hunter entails me trying to not only gather information about the last known whereabouts of the suspect, but to closely monitor their network of family and friends for suspicious activities. Many times, I am able to bring these suspects to justice just because they slip up and get too comfortable around their inner circle.
We had a very dangerous pair of escaped criminals on out hands, and they were already in jail on murder charges so we knew they were a threat to public safety and had nothing to lose on the run. One of the problems we faced immediately was they were not making use of any family connections, they were simply flying by the seat of their pants and this was a huge problem for us.
I went back to the jail to see if I could get any fellow inmates to cooperate with the investigation, when a corrections officer informed me that they may have a lead. Recently we had Securus Technologies install a new inmate communication system in the jail, and officers were trained on the software to be able to detect chatter that was revealing activities in the jail that were prohibited.
During a recent nights studying of the calls, one officer said he had reason to believe that the inmates that escaped were still getting help from an unlikely source here inside the jail. One of the higher level gang members was overheard giving orders to get soldiers to a meeting point to help a few new friends. This was the break we needed.
We listened in on those calls and were able to make use of the covert alert feature to help us pinpoint the location of the meet. Our team was in position when the two inmates walked right into our trap and were apprehended without any incident.