The outcome "illustrates the incredible power" that companies like Securus have over public officials nationwide, when they offer potential revenues for local governments from jail calls, Jenkins said.
Richard A. "Rick" Smith, CEO of Securus, did not return a call for this story by press time. A press release posted Oct. 31 on the company's website states that in the past 10 years Securus "has collected and remitted to jails, prisons and state, county and local governments over $1.3 billion in the form of commissions. Commissions are collected from inmates and their family and friends on outbound telephone calls that Securus completes over its proprietary inmate calling platform. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated commission payouts on interstate long distance calls effective Feb. 11, 2014, and will likely eliminate or significantly reduce intrastate commissions early in 2015 in an effort to reduce calling rates, provide more affordable calling and reduce recidivism."
The release quotes Smith, who states: "Clearly these commission payments that have been used to fund critical inmate welfare programs and support facility operations and infrastructure have improved the lives of inmates, victims, witnesses and individuals working in the correctional environment, and helped to fund government operations. And it appears, sadly, that regime may come to an end in the not too distant future. …We have been a vocal advocate of maintaining commissions and have spent approximately $5 million in legal fees and other costs on behalf of our facility customers over the last decade to maintain commissions, but the FCC maintains that it is not good public policy to have the poorest in society help to fund government operations, even though the programs funded are worthwhile. … If commission payments are eliminated or reduced—we are advocating a transition period that will allow our facility customers to secure funding from other sources or some type of phase-in of the new rules so as not to impact our facility customers—that phase-in is important and we have discussed that with the FCC on numerous occasions."
One notices MSB doesn't guarantee collections for the Driver Responsibility surcharge, where around 60 percent of assessed charges go uncollected.