I found a different way to make a payment on my Global Tel Link account so that I could talk to my husband while he’s in prison. The option was to send in a check, and when the check was received by the company, the money would be deposited onto my account. It seemed harmless, so I tried it with a $20 money order. After two weeks, the money still wasn’t on my account. I called the company only to discover that the office wasn’t even in the United States. The office that my money order went to is in Mexico. The money order was supposedly never received even though I have the receipt of the amount and the address of where I mailed the money order. I called the Consumer Affairs number, and the representative told me that someone would look to see if the money order was actually received. I would get a call back the next day to give me details about what was found with the money order. Two days passed, so I called back. The person I talked to had no record of me calling, and I was told there was nothing that could be done because I must have sent the money order to the wrong address. Never again will I send a money order to Global Tel for my account. Read my full story on PR Newswire.
The Jackson Jambalaya posted an interesting article on cdispatch about the Keefe Group, an inmate communications and services firm that had a contract with the former Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) Commissioner Chris Epps, who has been indicted for fraud and bribery. The Keefe Group made more than $40 million from the MDOC since 2008, nevertheless, no one from from the firm was indicted. Cecil McCrory, the man that owned previous MDOC supplier G.T. Enterprises, which he sold to the Keefe Group in 2008, was also indicted. Check out Keefe’s profile on corrections.com
It’s a convoluted story of bribery and corruption, however, the Keefe Group was paying the MDOC more than 29 percent in commission fees for food and personal care item purchases by inmates. Yes, companies can make large profits selling to inmates, however, the MDOC made out pretty well too. It’s hard to imagine why McCrory would allegedly offer a bribe to get contracts that required such high commission payments.
Perhaps this is why the Keefe Group is the target of an article calling the company predatory because of the high prices they charge inmates for food items. The Under Lock & Key news service is asking people to write the Keefe Group and document any abuses by the company. Perhaps Under Lock & Key should look at what their state’s Department of Corrections is receiving in commissions from the firms that they allow to sell products and services to inmates. Read article here: http://www.prisoncensorship.info/article/fight-keefe-food-group-corruption/
Inmates need to communicate with family and friends. How do they communicate, though? For inmates to communicate, they must make calls home. Communication has however been challenging because of the rising call rates. According to Eric Markowitz on 06/30/16, the families of inmates in the U.S pay up to $1 to talk to their relatives locked behind bars. The Federal Communications Commission came in to save this situation by regulating the call rates. The inmate’s communication industry primarily controlled by private firms focused on harvesting profits instead of making life in prison easy for prisoners. Notably in June, the call rates rose yet again.
Connie Pratt, a sixty-three-year-old woman from California, Chico, whose thirty-three-year-old son is behind bars for correctional purposes interjected she hoped that Federal Communications Industry would lower the prison call rates. But on June 20th, she realized that the call rates appreciated supposedly on the day they were to depreciate. Connie, the physically challenged woman, was devastated given the fact that she spends $900 monthly because of her disability. The fifteen minutes call rate bill rose from $7.20 to $9.77.
For all inmates in America, communication goes through private firms. Due to monopoly contracts, a call per minute costs $1. Hence, a fifteen-minute call would cost up to more than $15 which is too high for the families. According to the reports, the high call rates were also due to revenue sharing deals with sheriffs. Mignon Clyburn, who is a federal regulator at the FCC, admits to the high call rates being the biggest market failure he has seen. The FCC voted for a program dubbed ‘rate caps’ in October 2015, meant to charge inmates and their families. The price caps program by Federal Communications Commission to interstate calls applies to local phone calls only. If a prisoner made a phone call from Nevada to California, it would be monitored and charged on the rate cap making it cheaper.
In a case reported in Alabama, it became public that families were spending up to $100 or double the amount to communicate with a family member who is behind the bars.
Diana Summerford confirms that she used to pay $100 every month to cover her telephone bill. The bill was inflated by calls she made to her son, Jimmy Childers who was held at Decatur Work Release. The costs were high but she had to keep connected to know how her son was doing in prison.
The Alabama regulatory agency had though promised to regulate the inmate call rates to reduce the burden that family members incur while calling their relatives in prison. Despite the intervention to cut down rates, some inmate communication providers made a stand that they were not ready to agree to a reduced call rates regime. The firms depend on their services to prisoners to make profits.
The Alabama Public Service confirmed that the private firms imposed unrealistic charges on phone calls. To avoid detection, the firms first sold calling cards to jail canteen operators at a low price. In turn, the canteen workers sold the tickets at a high price to inmates.
According to pissedconsumer.com, the high prices were part of an illegal plan to contract with a Louisiana-based telecommunications inmate phone service provider that took advantage of their monopoly to charge exorbitant phone call rates. The company was accused of charging transaction fees of more than $4.75 to users when they made any deposit to their accounts. To make things worse, the money deposited in the account disappeared mysteriously in some cases.
However, the exorbitant inmate phone call rates could be reduced if the county considered contracting other firms. IC Solutions is an inmate communications service provider that gives relatively lower charges in opening up an account, and cheaper call rates when using their services. http://icsolutions.pissedconsumer.com/ic-solutions-shady-fraudulent-company-20141224574304.html
When someone is in jail, a phone call can sometimes mean the difference between getting through the day and thinking that you are never going to talk to family and friends again. Prison systems can choose the phone company that they want to use for the inmates to call home, but they often choose the company that will give the greatest commission to the facility.
Global Tel-Link is one of the most expensive companies, but it’s one that many prisons will use. There are class actions taking place across the country, especially in California, about the outrageous charges that the company is putting on those who are in jail. There is usually a steep fee associated with setting up an account, and you have to have money on the account for the call to be completed. Sometimes, the call is a one-time charge. At other times, the company might charge you to talk based on how many minutes you are on the phone. Regardless of how the call is charged by GTL it’s expensive. However, with people like myself who rely on the calling systems to talk to loved ones who are in jail or prison, it’s a price we have to pay to make sure our loved ones know that we are here and waiting for them to get out. Read more about GTL on aclu.org and globaltellinkreviews.com.
These days, it is really hard to save money. However, I didn’t realize that talking to an inmate in prison would be so expensive. However, there is a big example of paying tons of money for talking to a prisoner. This example is the amount of money that Heather Kofait has to pay in order to talk to her husband, Anthony. Anthony was arrested last Mach for shoplifting at a Walmart. He walked away with 21 Crest Whitestrips boxes without paying for them. In order to keep in touch with her husband, Heather has spent around $60 every week on a prison call.
Global Tel-Link and Securus Technologies have worked together in this issue. These two are two major players in the prison communications industry. They have released statements on PR Newswire that describe a record amount of phone calls to prisons. Both Securus and Global Tel-Link have stated that they are getting a historic number of calls. However, people are saying that there are a ton of charges that they have to pay which also include a bill processing fee. Among the fees that Securus charges are opening, establishing and even closing account fees. Global Tel-Link and Securus are charging their prices so that they can provide adequate security call monitoring.
When dealing with a loved one in prison, that could cost tons of money. While Global Tel-Link offers state of the art and innovative services, I do understand that there can be a lot of costs associated with using the services. I would probably just stick to paying the prisoner a visit in person. For more information about GTL, check the YouTube video about them and visit their website.
“Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle,” said Franklin D. Roosevelt. While most Americans agree with FDR’s view, there is today a high tax levied on the poorest citizens in the United States. That tax is in the form of high inmate phone charges in jails and prisons across the country. In some instances, a single call home can cost an inmate as much as $50. Prisoner advocates and families are now calling attention to this common problem in hopes of reducing the cost of inmate calls.
The jail in Hillsborough County in Florida is an example of a facility with expensive phone charges for inmates. Inmates pay a flat fee of $2.25 for a fifteen minute local call. The jail deducts the charge from the inmate’s phone account to which family members make deposits. The jail charges families $8.95 each time they place money into an inmate’s account. When departments add this extra charge to basic call cost, the flat fee is actually inflated to $3.75 per call. Thus, a fifteen minute call ends up costing an inmate 25 cents a minute. The cost of a long distance call is 40% higher, with the basic flat fee of $3.15. Therefore, an inmate’s long distance call may cost nearly 35 cents a minute. This compares to long distance calling charges as low as 2.5 cents a minute for the normal population.
Prison advocates hope recent rulings by the FCC will bring down these expensive calls for inmates. In October of 2015 the federal agency issued rulings to cap deposit charges and other charges. While these rulings will limit the costs in some instances, telecommunication groups have challenged the rulings in court. Only time will tell if justice will come to the area of inmate phone calls.