Saturday, January 16, 2010

TX prison phone installation complete

A press release from the company installing the new Texas prison phone system announces that the massive project was completed in December:
Securus Technologies, Inc. a leading provider of inmate communications services and innovative offender and case management software design, today announced that it, in a partnership with CenturyLink – completed the installation work at all Texas state-operated prison facilities in December, 2009.

Highlights:

  • Seven (7) year contract with Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ);
  • Installation of approximately 5,500 phones that are used on a tightly controlled basis to make secure outbound calls;
  • 120,000 Texas inmates are potentially eligible for phone privileges;
  • This contract represents the largest department of corrections contract ever signed in the inmate telecommunications sector;
  • The unique challenges of installing inmate telecommunications services at facilities where inmate phone calling was previously not allowed – were overcome;
  • Securus and CenturyLink successfully managed a $30 million installation project to completion over the last twelve (12) months.
This is welcome news. Texas was the last state to approve a prison phone system, which is widely acknowledged as beneficial for maintaining family ties and facilitating successful reentry. It also gives prison staff an excellent carrot they can give out and take away to improve inmate behavior. (In the federal system inmates will soon have limited access to email for the same reasons.) About half of men and 2/3 of women prisoners are parents of minor-age children, so if only for their sake I've always thought this was a good idea.

As an ancillary benefit, it's been suggested that to the extent inmates were using illegal contraband cell phones for family-related calls, perhaps having access to legal phone service will mitigate demand for them as contraband inside Texas prison units. I wouldn't count on it to the exclusion of more overt security measures, but it certainly can't hurt.

22 comments:

sunray's wench said...

Great. I'm sure my mother-in-law who lives in a nursing home in Dallas will be happy for everyone, even though she cannot register to speak to her son because the line belongs to the nursing home and not her.

Anonymous said...

"As an ancillary benefit, it's been suggested that to the extent inmates were using illegal contraband cell phones for family-related calls, perhaps having access to legal phone service will mitigate demand for them as contraband inside Texas prison units."

1. The telephone calls are recorded. There is a prompt informing an inmate of this.

2. The astronomical cost per minute makes inmate telephone systems makews it cost prohibitive for someone, usually the family on the receiving end.

No, look for an even higher demand for cell phone contraband.

Anonymous said...

The astronomical cost per minute makes inmate telephone systems makews it cost prohibitive for someone, usually the family on the receiving end.

So true, so true. $25 per 15 minute phone call punishes the family not the prisoner and makes the phone company an exorbitant profit.

It's morally wrong to take such gross advantage of people for profit.

whitsfoe said...

That's true. It's cost prohibitive. It's the very reason we give minutes to kids in TYC to speak with their families. TDCJ should look at awarding minutes for productive and responsible behavior.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Wow, Whitsfoe, is that TYC's policy? I didn't know that! Pretty cool idea.

Jules said...

To: Anonymous 8:53
$25 per 15 minute phone call punishes the family not the prisoner and makes the phone company an exorbitant profit.
Inmates are limited to 240 mintues per month in 15 minute increments at a cost of approx. $70 per month. They do not have to use all of these minutes and the cost per minute is about 25 cents.

Helga Dill, Chair,TX CURE said...

Thanks Jules, at least one of the comments was from an informed individual. For years families have yelled for phone service and now that they have it they find all kinds of things wrong with it .
We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. We also have e-mail through JPay at 44cents a page , the equivalent of a postage stamp. Anyone out there find anything wrong with that yet? Come on ,lets hear it.

Anonymous said...

That's funny Ms. Dill. I don't know what the cost of the phone calls are but I don't believe an inmate is going to use a recored telephone line to further some criminal act just as they are not going to use your 44 cent email to do the same.

I assume you guys monitor inmate email or do you? Do you monitor everything that goes out? Can an inmate receive email and if yes do you monitor everything coming in? Have you ever discovered an email describing the furtherance of some criminal act?

I'm glad inmates now have the phone system. I don't think it's going to slow down contraband cell phones because those conversations are not monitored.

Anonymous said...

The cost per 15 minute phone call is less than $5.00. My son calls me once a week, and his father once a week. Well worth the peace of mind to know he has been safe for the last week.

sunray's wench said...

Helga, my comment was "informed". If an individual does not own the phone line, then they cannot register for the phone system even if they are on the inmate's visitation list. And my husband cannot put "Greenacres Care Home" down on his visitation list.

Inmates can either call collect (which the recipient has the choice of denying) or they can use pre-paid minutes. Most inmates need to learn a little self-control - that's often why they end up in prison in the first place. There is no reason why anyone should be racking up huge bills from these phone calls.

Anon 6.46 ~ the emails are sent to the prison mailrooms and printed off by mailroom staff before being given to the inmates. Inmates do not have access to their own email accounts in TDCJ (although in some other states, in some prisons, some inmates do have access to email terminals). I can see this being encouraged as the main means of communication from the outside in future as it removes the opportunity to introduce contraband.

jan said...

after 6 silent years and a long drive every other weekend, it is a blessing to hear from my son each wednesday. Like most families, we
have a call arrangement that fits with our budget and desire to conserve minutes so that all who wish to hear from my son can. I'm not sure what the CURE lady represents but she needs to get over herself. There will always be someone who complains. Best to look at the vast majority who do not.

Charlie O said...

The minutes was just upped to 240 recently. Until very recently, the max was 120 minutes per month. There ARE problems with the system. The voice recognition on the prisoner side fails repeatedly. I've had calls cut off, with the message that "third party calls" are not allowed. My land line does not even have that capability. There are times when my wife has to go through the process three or four times before the call goes through without a hitch. And the charges are high, but not ridiculous. My favorite is the $2.99 billing fee. You get billed for the privilege of being billed. Hopefully only 30 days or so left of this madness.

Anonymous said...

Sunray,

The opportunity to smuggle in cell phones will always exist. Honest inmates not seeking to further some kind of crime or illegal act will use the email or inmate telephone system.

Dishonest inmates will continue to have cell phones smuggled in because those conversations are not monitored or recorded.

sunray's wench said...

anon 4.34 ~ you misunderstand me. I wasn't suggesting that all contraband would be eliminated simply by only allowing inmates to receive emailed letters from friends and family. I meant that the opportunity to get other forms of contraband inside the prison via a traditional envelope and stamp is eliminated by sending an email letter.

Nothing is done to benefit friends and family of inmates unless there is a perceived benefit to TDCJ or politicians as well. Be under no illusion about that.

Anonymous said...

"Nothing is done to benefit friends and family of inmates unless there is a perceived benefit to TDCJ or politicians as well. Be under no illusion about that."

You are right on point. It's on every level including city and county governments.

Michael Hamden said...

The outrageous rates of prison phone calls, which fund ever-escalating "commissions" paid to correctional authorities, amount to a hidden tax on the families and friends of prisoners. These fees, which are sometimes as high as 60% of revenue, are being used to generate income for correctional agencies or government coffers. The money is being extorted from a group of people, many of whom are already destitute. Let's stop this exploitation. Sign the petition at http://criminaljustice.change.org/actions/view/give_us_fair_reasonable_prison_phone_rates (copy and paste without spaces).

John said...

Securus Technologies has a nice prison phone system with the Anywhere Acceptance, First Call Connect and the billing features and optons. Curious about rate regulation however; this has always been a problem in prisons.



You can learn more about Securus Technologies at Inmate Telephone Service, an excellent resource.

John said...

Hopefully rate problems will be reduced or solved with the Family Telephone Connection Protection Act of 2009

Telephone Systems Northeast Mississippi said...

It could be better if they impose a time limit.... so it wouldn't be abuse or any other purposes..

Anonymous said...

Alot of the families that are complaining are probably ex cons themselves. And just like commissary the phones are a privledge, not a right. US mail mail service is still there people.

Anonymous said...

First of all why should they limit how much I'm willing to spend!! I'm out of state and pay .42 per minute... But if I'm willing to pay why should we be only able to talk for 240 minutes a month. We can use them up in three days like we did this month... It was my birthday and anniversary this month. Guess we will just have to start spreading them out better. Hopefully they will up the minutes so those of us willing to pay can talk to our loved ones!!

Luke's Mimi said...

I am grateful for every opportunity to communicate with my son. The rates are definitely not exorbitant, except the .44 per photo attached to emails. It is sad, though, that those whose only form of communication is a cell phone can't visit with their children.