Wednesday, 17 October 2012 22:17

Phone calls from prison


Phone calls from prison$$$


The Louisiana Public Service Commission is investigating exorbitant telephone rates charged to families of inmates in Louisiana jails and prisons.

Published in Inmate Telephone News


Published: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 8:14 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 at 8:14 a.m.

As North Carolina's criminal justice system undergoes a transformation whose depth rivals any since 1994, probation officers are adjusting to a laundry list of newly endowed powers, including the ability to confine lawbreakers in jail for up to three days without a court hearing.

Published in Prison Legal News

ATLANTA, Georgia, Feb 21, 2012 (IPS) - Budget constraints combined with exploding prison populations are prompting a number of U.S. states, including some of in the politically conservative south, to rethink their criminal codes.

Published in Current Events

by John E. Dannenberg

Prison Legal News

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 $152 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.

Published in Inmate Telephone News
Thursday, 21 April 2011 05:07

Prison Phone Kickbacks: Part 2

Regulation by State Agencies

Some actions before state regulatory agencies have had greater success. The Utilities Consumer Action Network filed a complaint against MCI with the California Public Utilities Commission over irregularities in the company’s billing practices and quality of service for calls originating from California prisons. In a 2001 settlement, MCI agreed to refund more than $520,000 in illegal overcharges to families of California prisoners. [See: PLN, Nov. 2001, p.19].

This followed a pattern of state regulatory actions and settlements dating from the early 1990s that saw a number of telecommunications companies fined and ordered to pay refunds due to illegal prison phone call billings.

In Louisiana, the state Public Service Commission ordered GTL to refund $1.2 million in overcharges from June 1993 to May 1994. In 1996, North American Intelecom agreed to refund $400,000 overcharged to members of the public who accepted prisoners’ phone calls, following an investigation by the Florida Public Service Commission. The following year the Commission ordered MCI to refund almost $2 million in overcharges on collect calls made from Florida state prisons. [See: PLN, Aug. 1998, p.8; March 1997, p.12; Sept. 1996, p.13].

Published in Inmate Telephone News
September 05, 2010 12:00 PM EDT (Updated: September 05, 2010 02:05 PM EDT)

SAO PAULO, Brazil – A teen tried to deliver cell phones by shooting arrows over a Brazilian prison’s walls with his bow. On the other side of the walls of the prison, inmates were awaiting the cell phones.

Published in Inmate Telephone News



At this point, it seems cell phones are pretty much ubiquitous in prisons across the country. Instead of relying on monitored land lines (which are typically either pay phones or make only collect calls), inmates use illegal cell phones to maintain contact with family and friends and some conduct illicit business via the smuggled devices.

Apparently, phones are so widespread, an NPR story reported, that a mother actually called up a Texas prison warden, complaining that her incarcerated son was getting poor reception from his (smuggled) phone.

Reports are flooding in from around the country on how these devices are making their way through the pores of prison walls–and some of these smuggling techniques straddle the fine line between genius and absurd:

Published in Inmate Telephone News
Sunday, 17 October 2010 02:16

Debate Rages Over Cell Phone Jamming

A debate over jamming has emerged as mobile phones become a way for prison inmates to communicate with the outside -- sometimes for criminal purposes.

By Jesse Emspak | October 16, 2010 7:56 AM EDT

Mobile phones make it possible to conduct business from anywhere - even prison.

In Texas, a state senator, John Whitmore, got a call in 2008 from a death row inmate, threatening his family. In Baltimore a drug dealer used his phone to order a hit on a witness who identified him as a suspect in a murder case. In South Carolina, a corrections officer in charge of preventing contraband was shot six times - the shooting was planned with a smuggled-in cell phone. (The officer survived).

The incidents have ignited a debate on how to stop prisoners from using the latest mobile technologies to plan criminal activity.

Published in Inmate Telephone News
September 30, 2010

Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla today verbally slapped Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for vetoing his legislation to make furnishing a cell phone to a state prison inmate a misdemeanor crime.

The Los Angeles lawmaker, in a written statement, characterized Schwarzenegger's veto of Senate Bill 525 as irresponsible and says it "gives the green light to smugglers."

Published in Inmate Telephone News