The Keefe Group Corners the Inmate Commissary Market

The Keefe Group operates through a number of different affiliates. These enterprises include Keefe Supply Company, Keefe Commissary Network, Access Securepak, Access Corrections, ICSolutions and Advanced Technologies Group.

The Keefe Group is ranked as the leading supplier of food products, technology, personal care products, clothing, electronics, telecommunications and software solutions operating in the correctional marketplace in the United States today.

Beginning in 1975, the Keefe Group serviced the correctional market in a number of different ways. The company provides its services to a majority of correctional institutions in the United States today. This includes correctional institutions on the local, state, and federal level in the United States.

When it comes to commissary or canteen services for inmates, the Keefe Group enters into exclusive agreements with correctional agencies and institutions. Through these agreements, the Keefe Group becomes to the sole provider of commissary services at a correctional institution.

According to KingFish, as a result of the Keefe Group being the sole provider of commissary services at a particular institution, the company is able to name its own price when it comes to the products sold to inmates. Inmates have no ability to negotiate a better, more appropriate price structure. Institutions have no motivation to strive to get better pricing for incarcerated offenders.

Inmates are able to make purchases via an institutional commissary or canteen, usually on a weekly basis. Friends and family place money in an inmate’s institutional trust account. The inmate can then utilize those funds to make purchases from the commissary or canteen. Unfortunately, the inmate is faced with products that are sold at higher prices than what is found in the “real world.”

In recent months, an ever increasing number of relatives and friends of incarcerated men and women are becoming concerned with the business practices of the Keefe Group, reports the Tampa Bay Times. These individuals are banding together to effect change in regard to the operations of the Keefe Group, particularly the company’s pricing practices in commissaries and canteens at North American correctional facilities. The sincere hope of these individuals is that there will be power in numbers and that they will be able to break some of the monopolistic practices of the Keefe Group.

 

Businessmen With Keefe Ties Face The Music

Correctional facility cantina goods supplier Keefe Group is embroiled in yet another bribery scandal.

On Wednesday, Joseph A. Deese, 34, a businessman with ties to Keefe Group, pleaded guilty in federal court to bribery and kickback charges. His co-defendant, Edward L. Duggar, 64, plead guilty to similar charges in March.

Both men were indicted after a long investigation into Keefe Group’s ties to prison officials. James V. Crosby, who was appointed prison secretary by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and another high-ranking official, Allen W. Clark, have already served federal time in connection with the case.

According to prosecutors, Duggar, also owner of a Tallahassee Allstate Insurance company, befriended Crosby shortly after his appointment. Through the friendship, Duggar was given access to the prisons’ Police Benevolent Association for the purpose of selling insurance to prison guards. Crosby also introduced both Duggar and Deese to Keefe CEO Jack Donnelly.

In a report by prisoncensorship.info, as part of the kickback scheme, Duggar and Deese created a company and were given a “piece” of the Keefe Group cantina business. In return, the pair made monthly payments to Crosby, Clark and Donnelly.

Federal prosecutor Thomas O’Neil says local police received a tip, which was turned over to the FBI. Wiretaps captured several conversations between parties setting up bribery payments. Duggar and Deese initially denied the allegations but later confessed when presented with the tapes.

Although no Keefe official to date has been charged, O’Neill says he won’t rule out additional charges being filed.

Duggar and Dees are scheduled for sentencing in July.

 

Prison telephone calls, where prisons, contractors and rights groups can agree

Many prisoners’ rights groups recruit inmates and family members to agitate on behalf of what they perceive to be an unjust prison system that has become entrenched across the United States. From a political standpoint, this is always a tough row to hoe because of the generally toxic nature of the violent criminal demographic. People can muster sympathy for just about any group, even animals. But when the group includes rapists and murderers, it’s hard to get hard working Americans to pay a whole lot of attention to the cause being advocated for.

 

Nonetheless, these groups exist and often times land the powerful backing of groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and even funds headed by George Soros. Such powerful backing by those willing to spend real money to promote some of their initiatives has allowed these groups and the people they represent to command a louder presence than they may have otherwise been able to put forth.

 

One area where prison reformists have targeted their ire is prison calling. The rates are largely perceived to be universally too high by these groups. They also tend to object to any aspect of the prison system being privatized, including the handling of phone calls. However, the evidence is clear that in many jurisdictions across the country, prisoners are making more phone calls than ever before. The private-public nexus between prisons and inmate communications providers has widely yielded rates of between 10 and 15 cents per minute. Such low rates hardly fit the typical reformists’ accusations of price gouging.

 

 

UC Berkley Launches Partneship with UC Berkley

Earlier this week the Underground Scholar Initiaitve that was created by UC Berkley welcomed its first round of graduates. This initiative was created as a pipeline from prison to UC Berkley.

 

Many prisoners feel once they are released their is no hope for them to enter into society but these prisoners are walking into the world with a new mindset as they will be walking away from prison with college degrees.

 

This years innagural graduation included speeches from thought leaders throughout California who encouraged the graduates to shoot for the stars and to remind them that the sky is the limit.

 

 

One special graduate had even more to celebrate as he received his masters degree and announced amongst his peers that he had been accepted into a PH.D. Program. So if you’re wondering how a college could accept an ex felon? Well at UC Berkley ex felon isn’t even a topic.

 

Potential backlash from Albany County Inmate Tablet Program

An Albany, New York sheriff is causing some controversy with his decision to allow jail inmates to use tablets behind bars. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple recently launched a new program inside of his jail cells that would allow inmates to use Apple tablets. Inmates would be allowed to do a variety of activities such as download music, play games and text family members and friends.

 

Despite the potential backlash and voiced concerns from community members, the Sheriff stated that he runs his jails as a business. Usage of the tablets behind bars is a revenue-generating activity. Inmate family members can place money within tablet accounts that allow inmates access to a number of apps. While inmates aren’t allowed to surf the internet, they are allowed to talk and text up to ten contacts that are vetted by the jail system.

 

Telmate, the inmate communications company behind the program, created the innovative tablet software that vets contacts before inmates can communicate with them. About 70 other jails across the United States operate a similar inmate communications program. Despite receiving some criticism from community members, the Sheriff contends that the program helps the jail system reduce costs. Right now, the Albany County jail system costs tax payers around $42 million a year according to the Sheriff.

 

http://www.kmov.com/story/34603666/sheriff-defends-letting-inmates-use-tablets-to-text-behind-bars

 

Consumer Complaints Regarding IC Solutions Services and Prepaid Deposits

Consumers have been expressing concerns via online review websites about the business practices of IC Solutions. Consumers are expressing a variety of different types of complaints about IC Solutions.

One area in which consumers are making complaints about IC Solutions focuses on issues surrounding money deposits made by friends and family members. IC Solutions markets that it provides an inmate telephone solution (http://jailphoneservices.com/ic-solutions/) through which a friend or family member can make a deposit with the company and those funds allow for prepaid phone calls to be made by an inmate to the loved one who made the deposit.

Consumers are complaining that they have made deposits and heard nothing back from the company. They maintain that they made deposits and the funds did not become available for use. In other words, they paid money to IC Solutions and were not able to receive phone calls from their incarcerated loved one.

Some Pissed Consumers are also complaining about fees charged per each phone call. These individuals maintain that they were not appropriately advised of the nature and extent of fees. They also contend that the fees themselves, even when they have knowledge of them, are far too high.

IC Solutions is an industry leader when it comes to inmate telephone systems. Indeed, IC Solutions provides phone systems to innumerable correctional institutions across the United States.

IC Solutions provides three different ways in which the company’s phone services can be accessed. First, and as has been noted, prepaid deposits can be made by friends and family members of incarcerated individuals. Second, an inmate can set up a debit account by transferring funds from his institutional trust fund account to his or her phone account. Finally, in some instances, the IC Solutions permits collect calls. This usually requires the recipient to have a landline.

GTL wards off opponents, continues delivering strong value

Global Tel Link has become the nation’s number-one provider of inmate telephone services. But it has been a long, hard road for the company. GTL has been forced into conflict after conflict with rabid critics, many of whom despise the role that any corporations play within the U.S. prison system.

Lately, the firm has been dealing with increasingly vocal opponents of the high rates that some inmates have to pay to make phone calls. These are generally contained to areas where the prisons themselves take unusually high commissions. But the arguments the critics make are still quite powerful and have proven a gigantic public relations headache for GTL and the other companies that work in the prison telephone space.

More than just an inconvenience

Inmates and their families are frequently upset by the high costs of staying in touch across prison walls. Rates in the U.S. prison system span a huge spectrum, ranging anywhere from $1.22 per minute to just 5 cents per minute, reveals the ACLU. In states like Arizona, where the prison system has traditionally taken large commissions from phone calls and views them as an essential source of revenue, the families of inmates often end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, just to stay in touch with their loved ones.

However, that’s not the only reason that high calling rates may be bad. An increasingly large body of research indicates that inmates’ ability to stay in touch with their loved ones on the outside of prison is a key factor in lowering recidivism and promoting good outcomes upon release.

But GTL points out that the revenues generated for prisons in these overpriced markets are often times crucial to their budgets. In many cases, lowering rates would result in cash shortfalls that would result in the phones having to be removed, due to security concerns.

References:

  1. globaltellinkreviews.com
  2. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-tel-link-gtl-issues-inaccurate-press-release–securus-corrects-inaccuracies-300264749.html

Keefe Group Involved in Contract Amendments with Federal State Officials Amid Bribery Allegations

The Mississippi Department of Corrections should abolish its non-bid contracts and start a competitive bidding process to get better deals according to Keefe group. The company released the statement amid a review of prison systems after Christopher Epps, a former prisons commissioner, and businessman, Cecil McCrory, were accused of corruption charges. A five-member task force agreed on initial proposals to give to Governor Phil Bryant and legislators ahead of the legislative session. The two pleaded not guilty and awaited trial to begin in April 2017.

Andy Taggart, a lawyer co-chairing the task force, said that the recommendations should encourage transparency in government. The Department of Corrections currently has six no-bid contracts that require cancellation and later will be put up for competitive bids if the task force recommendation from the officials is accepted. One of the contracts is for The Keefe Group, in Missouri, to supply commissary services in Mississippi penitentiaries.

In a report by Prison Censorship, the Keefe Group officially began the supply of commissary services contract in 2008 after Centric Group, its parent company, bought G.T. Enterprises. Among the services offered are delivering candy bars to facilities and facilitating the transfer of money from loved ones to incarcerated inmates.

Bribery in Prison Service Delivery

Two Gainesville businessmen admitted to paying bribes to Keefe Commissary Officers, the St. Louis Company providing personal items and snacks to Florida’s prisoners. Former Corrections Secretary, James V. Crosby, accepted kickbacks from businesspeople looking to do business with the correctional facility. Crosby introduced the two businessmen, Edward Dugger and Joseph Deese, to Keefe executives who then offered them a percentage of the prison business.

The two men launched a company in 2004 to provide canteen services for persons visiting their loved ones housed in all Florida prisons. In return, Edward and Joseph paid the prisons officials monthly kickbacks ranging from $1,000- $13,000. They also paid Jack Donnelly, a former Keefe Commissary president and a Keefe executive $260,000 of the roughly $1.4 million a year they expected in sales.

Crosby and Clark were forced to resign as a result of the bribery investigations, but Keefe Commissary officials did not receive any corruption charges. Gainesville lawyer Gil Schaffnit, representing Deese, said that Keefe Commissary has powerful political connections.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/student-activists-demand-washington-university-cut-ties-with-andrew-taylor/article_3f8f03e7-9a96-5af1-85f9-15eb782270de.html

GTL Concern with The Proposed FCC Regulation

Global Tel link (GTL) articulated its concern and dismay about the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) impact on their last order putting in place new regulations for the Inmate Calling Services (ICS) commerce. These new rules establish fees and rates for intra-state calls. The rules also short commissions and discourage facility administrator payments.

These steps create instability in the industry. Many small jails will be threatened financially. Consecutively, GTL has now sought fair representation to have the order reviewed by FCC. GTL foresees this plan as short-sighted because the future of small jails is compromised.

According to the Consumer Affairs, FCC may hurt families and inmates in their decision. These are the people they want to help. While the rates will be low, they may end up with no phone services or low-quality phone services. For this reason, telling the universe that security, technology, and commissions can be met under regulations is a naïve predicament. This regulation defies common sense and the records of FCC.

I financial tsunami is created by FCC’s last order in the industry. This law preserves the largest overhead costs and reduces the sustainable service costs for services. This impact cripples service providers and forces them to cancel contracts. Many families and inmates will be left without these services. In a recent report by Top Class Actions, a class suit against GTL’s unfair rates is on process.

GTL brings affordable phone service and high-end technology to inmates, facilities, and families in America. GTL states that it has committed its services to provide comprehensive and sustainable solutions to reduce consumer costs.

The industry is willing to negotiation. They worked hand-in-hand, collaboratively with Clyburn and their staff to seek a suitable outcome for the policy. However, FCC has turned a blind eye to the 10-year track record of the company. GTL has always advocated for a suitable approach towards reducing calling rates. FCC continues to ignore the role and contribution of GTL in the inmate industry. To read more, check out globaltellinkreviews.com.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/global-tel-link-houston

 

Communications Technology to Those with Limited Freedom

Technology has begun to invade the prisons of Ohio. Communications companies have been trying to come up with new ways to make money while connecting inmates with individuals in the outside world for less. Here are a few of the solutions that they have come up with.

Inmate E-mail System

JPay has been changing the way inmates communicate and have been looking for new ways to make the system work better in such a dark world. They have installed kiosks around the state for prisoners to log on to and send e-mails. The technology is faster than regular mail and cheaper as well. If you are an approved visitor you can connect with your loved one during a half hour video visit through these kiosks as well.

Trial Fun for Loaning out Tablets

One prison in Ohio has begun lending all its inmates tablet like devices that allow them to make 30 minute phone calls. This is a trial to see how it goes and possibly will happen in more prisons in the future. The benefits? No waiting in long lines for phones. Many fights in prison are caused because of the phones. A common statistic for low-level prisons is about 150 inmates having access to three telephones. Inmates can make 15 minute calls then must wait at least one hour to make another 15 minute call with the actual phones while on the burrowed tablets they can make half hour calls as often as they want. This means not only that the phone company can make more money, but that there are less fights when it comes to gaining access to the limited quantity of phones and available times to call.

Jay has been continually trying to give more ways to communicate and keep in touch with loved ones for inmates. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next.