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Jail Call News

Jail Call News is our blog used for posting organization news, articles and other inmate and jail call information. 

  • 07/17/2014 2:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An exhaustive analysis of prison phone contracts nationwide has revealed that with only limited exceptions, telephone service providers offer lucrative kickbacks (politely termed “commissions”) to state contracting agencies – amounting on average to 42% of gross revenues from prisoners’ phone calls – in order to obtain exclusive, monopolistic contracts for prison phone services.

    These contracts are priced not only to unjustly enrich the telephone companies by charging much higher rates than those paid by the general public, but are further inflated to cover the commission payments, which suck over $143 million per year out of the pockets of prisoners’ families – who are the overwhelming recipients of prison phone calls. Averaging a 42% kickback nationwide, this indicates that the phone market in state prison systems is worth more than an estimated $362 million annually in gross revenue.

    In a research task never before accomplished, Prison Legal News, using public records laws, secured prison phone contract information from all 50 states (compiled in 2008-2009 and representing data from 2007-2008). The initial survey was conducted by PLN contributing writer Mike Rigby, with follow-up research by PLN associate editor Alex Friedmann.

    The phone contracts were reviewed to determine the service provider; the kickback percentage; the annual dollar amount of the kickbacks; and the rates charged for local calls, intrastate calls (within a state based on calls from one Local Access and Transport Area to another, known as interLATA), and interstate calls (long distance between states). To simplify this survey, only collect call and daytime rates were analyzed. 

  • 05/19/2012 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ‘Predatory’ prison phone rates: Civil rights leaders urge reform


    What if it cost $17 to make a 15-minute phone call in the U.S.? How often would you call home?

    That's the dilemma facing many inmates who must rely on the prison phone service and pay sky-high rates.

    A bipartisan group of prison reformers is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to stop phone companies from charging inmates what they call unreasonable and predatory rates to make phone calls.

    Why such astronomical fees? Phone companies often pay commissions to the state after they've won an exclusive contract to provide phone service at a state's prisons. (All but eight states allow these exclusive contracts.) The phone companies then pass on the cost of paying the state to inmates and their families, who have to shell out as much as $17 for a 15-minute call, the group says. That can add up to $250 a month to call home for an hour each weekundefineda cost that the often-poor families of inmates can hardly afford.

    But the money also drives revenue to the country's cash-strapped, crowded prison systems. In 2011, these phone company commissions generated $152 million in revenue for state prisons alone. In the federal system, which charges lower rates, the millions raised from commissions helps fund recreational and job-related activities for inmates, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

    Still, the ability to call home at a reasonable price is an important factor in whether inmates rehabilitate and reintegrate into society when they return, say reformers.

    The millions in telephone fees "is a tax on the poorest people in our society," David Keene, the former head of the American Conservative Union, said on a call with reporters.

    "It makes no sense to cut off or make impossible their communication with their families," he said.

    Prisoners and their relatives have petitioned the FCC to cap phone fees at 25 cents per minute for collect calls, with no connection fee. (Some prisons currently charge a connection fee of as much as $4 and then a per-minute rate of more than a dollar.) The proposed guidelines have stalled with the FCC since 2007, and the group of religious, civil and human rights leaders are urging action in a letter they sent to the FCC on Friday.

    A spokesman for the FCC told Yahoo News that the agency is still working to address the phone issue.

    Pat Nolan, a former California assemblyman who was imprisoned for two years for corruption and now advocates for prison reform, told reporters about his struggles paying for phone calls with his family during that time. Often he would go over the household finances with his wife and listen to his daughter talk about her schoolwork. "That was really valuable time, but it also was horribly expensive so we couldn't do it very often," he said.

    Prisoners' phone calls are recorded and often capped at 15 minutes, and phone privileges can be taken away in some circumstances.

    Perhaps the topic is ripe for review. Conservatives and liberals have found rare common ground in recent years on prison reform issues. Last year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Grover Norquist, the conservative activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform, teamed up to say that states send too many people to jail for drug offenses. America has just 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of its prison population, which results in a state prison system that costs $60 billion a year.

  • 04/19/2012 12:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Illegal prison cellphones being disabled in Calif

    LOS ANGELES undefined A private company that owns the pay phones in California's prisons will pay millions of dollars to install technology that prevents inmates from using smuggled cell phones to make their calls instead.

    The deal with Global Tel Link addresses the growing problem of cell phones within the nation's largest prison system, where the technology has been used by inmates to run criminal enterprises, intimidate witnesses and organize attacks on guards.

    The move also comes at no cost to taxpayers because the private firm expects to see demand for its pay phones soar, Dana Simas, a spokeswoman from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Tuesday.

    "There are pay phones available on the yards, but if you were to go to them now, there's no one using them," she said. "They're empty and a couple of years ago there were lines hours long."

    Beverly Schumock, an administration manager at Global Tel Link, referred questions to a company e-mail address for media inquiries. No one replied to an e-mail sent Tuesday by The Associated Press.

    Global Tel expects to have the blocking technology running at the California State Prison in Solano by the end of the year and at all prisons within three years.

    The state won't share in the profits Global Tel makes from the collect calls, but the company will pay an estimated $1 million for implementation and installation at each of the state's 33 prisons.

    Global Tel will also pay an $800,000 annual fee to the California Technology Agency for the contract, and the agency will make sure the Mobile, Ala.-based firm doesn't hike calling rates, according to the contract.

    The deal will mean slightly lower rates for collect calls than prisoners currently pay. A 15-minute local call will cost $1.50, while a 15-minute in-state, long-distance call will cost about $2, a decrease of a penny a minute. A 15-minute interstate call will cost $6.60, a decrease of nearly 22 cents a minute.

    Last year, California prison guards confiscated nearly 11,000 contraband phones, a sharp increase from 2007 when only 1,400 were found. Even Charles Manson, arguably the state's most notorious inmate, has twice been caught with contraband phones.

    Prison officials in some instances have deployed cell phone-sniffing dogs to search for the devices.

    New legislation last year made it a misdemeanor to smuggle a cell phone into a prison, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.

    "This groundbreaking and momentous technology will enable (the prison system) to crack down on the potentially dangerous communications by inmates," Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Matthew Cate said in a statement.

    Under the new plan, each prison will get its own cell tower that can be controlled by prison officials. Approved phones will be able to send and receive signals, but contraband phones will be useless under the company's cellular umbrella. The deal marks the first time the technology will be used for a state's entire prison system.

    Last year, during an 11-day test at two California institutions, the new technology detected 2,593 different wireless devices and blocked more than 25,000 attempts to make calls, send texts and e-mails, and log onto the Internet with a smart phone, according to prison officials.

    Prison watchdog groups, however, are critical of the deal between the state and Global Tel Link, saying it gives the private company a monopoly on the collect calls inmates rely on to stay in touch with family. Inmate families are concerned that with cell phone-blocking technology, Global Tel will raise rates.

    "If your mother was in prison, would you refuse a collect call? Would you refuse to talk to her? They know that those relationships are going to exist between human beings and they are going to exploit that and the state is willingly allowing the exploitation," said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
  • 01/17/2012 8:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Under Jim Crow laws, black Americans were relegated to a subordinate status for decades. Things like literacy tests for voters and laws designed to prevent blacks from serving on juries were commonplace in nearly a dozen Southern states.

    In her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs. She says that although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of blacks arrested for minor crimes remain marginalized and disfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens.

    "People are swept into the criminal justice system undefined particularly in poor communities of color undefined at very early ages ... typically for fairly minor, nonviolent crimes," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "[The young black males are] shuttled into prisons, branded as criminals and felons, and then when they're released, they're relegated to a permanent second-class status, stripped of the very rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement undefined like the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, the right to be free of legal discrimination and employment, and access to education and public benefits. Many of the old forms of discrimination that we supposedly left behind during the Jim Crow era are suddenly legal again, once you've been branded a felon."

    Michelle Alexander is an associate law professor at The Ohio State University. She clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court and is a graduate of Stanford Law School.
    Enlarge courtesy of the author

    Michelle Alexander is an associate law professor at The Ohio State University. She clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court and is a graduate of Stanford Law School.

    Interview Highlights

    On the number of blacks in the criminal justice system

    "Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control undefined in prison or jail, on probation or parole undefined than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. There are millions of African-Americans now cycling in and out of prisons and jails or under correctional control. In major American cities today, more than half of working-age African-American men are either under correctional control or branded felons and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives."

    On the war on drugs undefined and federal incentives given out through the war on drugs undefined as the primary causes of the prison explosion in the United States

    "Federal funding has flowed to state and local law enforcement agencies who boost the sheer numbers of drug arrests. State and local law enforcement agencies have been rewarded in cash for the sheer numbers of people swept into the system for drug offenses, thus giving law enforcement agencies an incentive to go out and look for the so-called 'low-hanging fruit': stopping, frisking, searching as many people as possible, pulling over as many cars as possible, in order to boost their numbers up and ensure the funding stream will continue or increase."

    On President Reagan's war on drugs

    "He declared the drug war primarily for reasons of politics undefined racial politics. Numerous historians and political scientists have documented that the war on drugs was part of a grand Republican Party strategy known as the "Southern strategy" of using racially coded 'get-tough' appeals on issues of crime and welfare to appeal to poor and working-class whites, particularly in the South, who were resentful of, anxious about and threatened by many of the gains of African-Americans in the civil rights movement."

    On racial profiling

    "I think it's very easy to brush off the notion that the system operates much like a caste system, if in fact you are not trapped within it. I have spent years representing victims of racial profiling and police brutality and investigating patterns of drug law enforcement in poor communities of color, and attempting to help people who have been released from prison attempting to 're-enter' into a society that never seemed to have much use to them in the first place. And in the course of that work, I had my own awakening about our criminal justice system and this system of mass incarceration. ... My experience and research has led me to the regrettable conclusion that our system of mass incarceration functions more like a caste system than a system of crime prevention or control."

  • 12/06/2011 11:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Why are my calls blocked?

    Calls to your phone line(s) from a correctional facility may be restricted for many reasons. Here are a few: 

    Collect Call Restriction. 
    Your local telephone company may restrict collect calls. Call your local telephone company to have this restriction removed. Once any of these restrictions is removed, it may take up to 72 hours for a collect call to go through. 

    New Telephone Number.  If you have a new telephone number, a restriction could be placed on your line.  Simply provide us with the date you received your new number from your local telephone company, and CBS can remove the restriction. 

    Exceeded Your Spending Limit. If you have exceeded your Account spending limit with our Company, calls to your line may be blocked. If you believe this is the case, please contact Securus at 1-800-844-6591. 

  • 10/31/2011 6:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    From the very beginning, Jail Call Solutions was created to provide safe, secure, and affordable means for our customers to communicate with their friends and loved ones who have been incarcerated.  

    Although most of our customers experience the service as we legally provide:  great call quality, excellent customer service and affordable telephone rates, there are some of you that have not.  We have always believed that if even one of our customers has been improperly blocked or denied the use of our services that it’s unfair and quite frankly something we must take action to correct.


    Before we ever opened our doors or took our first call we made sure to follow the guidelines needed to provide a legal phone service for your use.  We've hired attorneys as advisors to make absolutely certain we met the regulatory requirements to be a fully licensed and legal phone company capable of providing our products.   Since the moment of our first customer, we have challenged everyone who tries to interrupt your service. We have with regularity been to Washington DC over the past three years, meeting with Congressmen, Senators, and especially the FCC to relay the stories you have told us about some of the prison telephone providers who try to force you to pay outrageous phone rates and at times block your calls from your loved ones. 
    It really boils down to this:  you have the right to choose any legitimate telephone company you prefer and no other company has the right to block your calls.  The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has clearly determined that, absent an express exemption, call blocking by common carriers is a violation of the Communications Act.  According to the Commission, 

    “Because the ubiquity and reliability of the nation's telecommunications network is of paramount importance to the explicit goals of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, . . . we reiterate here that Commission precedent does not permit unreasonable call blocking by carriers.[1]

    The Commission is clear that this prohibition is a longstanding and fundamental common carrier obligation.  
    “The Commission has been, and remains, concerned that call blocking may degrade the reliability of the nation's telecommunications network.  Additionally, the Commission previously has found that call blocking is an unjust and unreasonable practice under section 201(b) of the Act.  Specifically, Commission precedent provides that no carriers . . . may block, choke, reduce or restrict traffic in any way.[2]
    We will continue this fight on your behalf and on the behalf of friends and family members of inmates throughout the country.
  • 10/20/2011 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Global Tel Link (GTL) has been the subject of much scrutiny throughout the years because of their history of capitalizing and profiting heavily on the misfortunes of inmate's families and friends.  Here is a petition requesting an investigation into their business practices:

    We the undersigned are demanding an investigation of Global Tel Link, and their practices. We are also demanding that the Prison Systems dealing with Global Tel Link, cease doing business with them. They are in exclusive contracts with Prisons throughout the United States to provide phone service between inmates and their families. Inmates who make collect calls have no option but to use Global Tel Link. Their tactics put an unfair burden on families whose only contact may be through phone calls. Global Tel Link is well aware of this and takes advantage of inmate families, in order to make a profit. Although we have complained in the past, Global Tel Link continues to receive contracts from States with no repercussion. Global Tel Link’s business practices have deteriorated even more since, merging with MCI, a failed Telecommunications Company.

    In the past Global Tel Link has:

    1. Blocked phone calls from certain phone numbers, so that consumers are forced to set up a prepaid account.

    2. Overcharged for accounts and not refund monies to customers.

    3. Cut inmate calls short, but did not credit the customers account.

    4. Had no live person to talk to when customers have complaints.

    5. Provided no means for customers to file complaints.

    6. Does not list an Administrative Headquarters, phone, nor email address.
    7. Required customers to set up an account, even when their provider (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast), allows collect calls.
    Thereby adding an unnecessary financial burden on customers.

    Global Tel Link, has a monopoly on the prison phone market, and is making millions of dollars in contracts, customer accounts, and prepaid fees. We are asking the FCC, FTC, Consumer Affairs offices, and our State and Federal Representatives to investigate Global Tel Link, on our behalf. We are consumers, taxpayers, voters, and citizens who do not deserve this treatment.

    Why have the states given exclusive contracts to Global Tel Link? We have a right to know why a Sweetheart deal was made with MCI/Global Tel Link. Why was MCI, allowed to merge with Global Tel Link? Why is it that customer complaints against Global Tel Link are ignored? Why was Global Tel Link recently given a contract to charge inmates families for collect phone calls to cell phones?

    We demand an answer to these questions, an investigation of Global Tel Link, and any other phone company dealing with Collect Phone Calls between inmates & their families. Reply With Quote
  • 10/03/2011 3:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Securus is notorious for randomly blocking numbers to increase their revenue (which is illegal). They also have a problem with dropped calls.

    See this:
Jail Call Services is a registered FCC Inmate Call Provider. (FCC Reg Number: 0023329063)
Jail Call Services, LLC is a registered FCC company (FRN 0023329063).
Jail Call Services, LLC is a registered FCC company (FRN 0023329063).
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