Recently, a lot of people have been raising alarm bells about the business practices of a telephony company called Global Tel-Link (GTL). A major player in the inmate communications industry, GTL provides paid telephony services for millions of jail inmates who have no other telephone options. Regrettably, GTL exploits their captive customer base. GTL’s per-minute rates are extremely exploitative. I hope that the FCC will act to rein in GTL’s clear excesses. It is unconscionable that this company is exploiting some of the most vulnerable members of society.
Until the correctional communications industry is more thoroughly regulated, inmates will languish. These individuals deserve better from society. I believe that when GTL gouges inmates, this undermines the presumption of innocence that is fundamental for a fair legal system. After all, a substantial percentage of imprisoned inmates are defendants who have not been convicted of crimes. According to our laws and traditions, these individuals are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. By cutting financially disadvantaged defendants off from telephone communications, GTL may well help undermine the foundations of our system.
Tragically, I have noticed that some of the people most impacted by GTL’s pricing are inmates’ families. After all, many inmates rely on their law-abiding relatives to pay for their phone time. It is especially heartbreaking to think of the children that are unable to speak with their parents. I really hope that responsible parties will do what they can to reform the inmate communications sector. After all, we all agree in principle that inmates have a right to communicate with the outside world. Fortunately, it seems that quite a few news organizations are raising the alarm about GTL’s crass practices. Over time, concerned citizens and journalists will shine as they protest GTL’s pricing. I believe the time for change is now.