Global Tel-Link Charges You a Fortune

Uh oh! Your loved one has just been imprisoned for a crime, and it will be years until he or she comes home again. You could visit your loved one, but your loved one lives hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of miles away. What will you do? Here is an idea: call your loved one up on the phone! Wait a second. Prison phone calls cost a fortune. You do not want to go into debt. You are not rich, and perhaps you are living from paycheck to paycheck. You need to contact your loved one, though, and you have a burning desire to hear his or her voice. What will you do?

Well, there is no easy answer to this question. Prison phone calls are way too much money. A fifteen minute telephone call through Global Tel-Link can cost as much as $17.00. There are tons of flat fees. There are even flat fees charged to add money into your account to pay off flat fees! If you get too carried away and have normal, frequent conversations with your loved one over the phone, you may quickly rack up a phone bill with Global Tel-Link that is worth thousands of dollars. There is no way around this. The system is set up to rip people off. It seems that not much is being done on the part of lawmakers, which is not surprising because Global Tel-Link has sunk it’s tentacles into politics. However, many people outside of Global Tel-Link are profiting off of high cost phone calls, and should also be blamed. Detention centers make a pretty hefty profit from expensive phone calls because they enter contracts with phone companies where the phone companies are obligated to give big kickbacks from revenue. Sometimes, phone companies are even required to give more than just kickbacks.

Global Tel-Link Is Only Part of The Problem

Already, the hassle of something going wrong, being arrested, going to court and being imprisoned can be a hugely tiring and traumatizing experience for inmates. However, it is also a very traumatizing and tiring experience for the loved ones of imprisoned people. It couldn’t get any more worse than that, right? Wrong! To make matters worst, people are barred from calling their imprisoned loved ones unless they agree to pay outrageous phone bills for not enough time. People who have not gone through the experience of being imprisoned or having a close loved one who is imprisoned may not understand this problem or may not think that it is of high priority. Another reason why people may not consider this to be a high priority problem is because of the fact that a negative stigma surrounds people who are imprisoned, as well as their families. People who are imprisoned are thought to “deserve” anything negative that comes their way. Any suffering that their families feel may be lightly shrugged off as being rightful consequences, or perhaps the faults of the inmates. Also, relatives of inmates may be stigmatized as being “trashy” and undeserving. In reality, they are just innocent individuals who happen to know people close to them who are imprisoned.

Global Tel-Link is a company that relies on these negative stigmas that the general population believes in order to price gouge the enlightened ones who have imprisoned relatives or friends. They provide expensive phone service for prisons and jails so that people can call their imprisoned loved ones. There can be a whole, legitimate argument written to demonize Global Tel-Link. However, Global Tel-Link is only part of the problem. Jails and prisons are the ones who choose phone companies. They choose based off of which company they can squeeze the most kickbacks from. This encourages phone companies to put the most price gouging, unethical practices in place.

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Top prison communications firms make killing, while families are crushed by costs

Global Tel Link is the nation’s largest prison communications provider. Like it’s arch nemesis, Securus Technologies, the company has grown up over the last decade. Both companies have generated billions of dollars per year in revenues and both have changed hands among high-flying hedge funds multiple times in recent history. GTL recently handled over 300 million phone calls in one year and reported that it had paid out over $500 million in commissions to the penal institutions where it does business. The prison calling industry has become big business.


But not everyone in reaping the windfall. Throughout the country, there are still hundreds of thousands of families who are forced to shell out extreme amounts of money, just to stay in touch with their incarcerated loved ones. In one example, a mother of two was paying well over $2,000 per year in phone charges, so that her sons could have their father in their lives. But even after having paid so much, her children were scarcely able to talk with their father more than once a week. And her story is far from the worst.


In Arizona, inmates pay some of the highest phone rates in the country. The state average for outgoing phone calls is more that $1 per minute, an incredible sum of money, many times what the free market rates would be for similar services. Opponents of the current calling regime say that because inmates are literally a captive market, these companies and the prisons that employ them are charging monopoly prices, clearly in contravention of various anti-trust laws.


In summer of 2016, the Prison Policy Initiative and other advocacy groups presented essentially this same argument to the Federal Communications Commission. They argued that the rent seeking that was being seen throughout various states was extremely harmful to inmates and their families and that it was only being made possible by the total monopoly that the companies enjoyed on calling services within any given prison. The FCC agreed. It passed new regulations that would have capped all prison phone rates to just $.21 cents per minute.


Within hours, GTL and Securus Technologies were taking action. They jointly filed a motion for an injunction against the FCC in a D.C. circuit court. The presiding judge agreed that the FCC had hastily promulgated the new regulations, without duly considering the implications they would have on the market as a whole. The judge issued an injunction, ordering the FCC to show cause before the court. The plaintiffs argued that had the regulations gone through, much of the prison calling system in the United States would have been put in jeopardy, placing at risk the ability of up to half of the nation’s inmates to have any access to phones at all.


But hard-line law-and-order types, such as Joe Arpaio, have a point when they say not to commit crimes if inmates and their families don’t like paying the going rates. The hard truth is that, in modern America, no one sympathizes much with the incarcerated.


In Louisiana, Angola prison shows phone rates can work for everyone

Angola is the state of Lousiana’s largest state prison. The sprawling complex is one of the largest of its kind, taking up more than 28 square miles in Eastern Louisiana. Modeled on the Southern farm prison idea, the facility has long been nearly self-sufficient, similar to Parchman Farm in Mississippi and other similar Southern prisons.


In keeping with the long tradition of Southern prisons being self-sufficient, Angola has mostly grown its own food and covered its own costs with prisoner labor. While the practice of Southern prison self-sufficiency has garnered a great deal of negative attention for its excesses, such as those documented by Michelle Alexander in her book “Slavery by Another Name”, the system has some decidedly positive effects. One of the most notable is that many Southern prisons have had to rely minimally on taxpayer money.


This penchant for self-sufficiency extends into all facets of the daily operations at Angola. Prisoners are expected to be employed in a vocation. These include attending to the prison’s farming activities or working in the shop. But the prison also earns revenues from its phone systems. For every call that inmates place, Angola takes a 70 percent cut. The rest is left for the prison phone system provide, Dallas-based Securus Technologies, to go to operational costs and a small profit.


But even if such a large commission seems like an extraordinary amount to take from every dollar that inmates spend on phone calls, the inmates probably don’t notice. That’s because the prison phone system’s operator, Securus, has been able to keep the average per-minute cost of phone calls down to just $.15 per minute. At these rates, most of Angola’s inmate population can afford to stay in nearly daily contact with loved ones, a possibility that is much more than a mere convenience for the inmates,


One of the hardest aspects of incarceration in the United States isn’t the burden it imposes on the inmates. They’ve been duly convicted in a court of law, often for terrible crimes. But there are often innocent family members whose lives are torn apart by a father being incarcerated for a lengthy sentence. It has been estimated that in the United States there are more than 3 million children of prisoners who, as a result of their parent’s sentence, are being raised in single-mother households.


Sociologists have identified this group of children as being among the most at-risk youths in the country, for every major negative life outcome that there is. Without a father in the home, these kids are more likely to drop out of high school, become habitually unemployed and most tragically, pursue a life of crime, following in their fathers’ footsteps and ending up in and out of prison for the remainder of their lives. This tragic consequence is one of the collateral costs of a prison population that exceeds that of any other nation on earth.


However, technologies deployed by companies like Securus are changing that. With truly cheap phone calls, Securus is proving that the prisoners, their families and the facilities themselves all can walk away happy.


FCC Caps Put In Place And Families Are Hoping For Some Relief

Families often spend close to $500 a month to communicate with their imprisoned loved ones. This creates hardships between the inmates and the families because of the expensive rates the prison communication industry charges. At one time, communications was a lucrative business to be involved in within the prison systems. But in the fall of 2015, the FCC stepped in and placed a rate cap on all prison related phone calls and stopped the add-on fees that was incurred on each call.


Families often went without just so they could communicate with their loved ones that are imprisoned. They had to make a choice between necessities and communications and necessities was what they chose to do without. The FCC manage to get the cost per minute down to 11 cent. But two major prison communication companies, Securus Technologies and Global Tel*Link, sued the FCC stating that the FCC disregarded the cost of providing the communication for the prison systems. This lawsuit put the rate caps on hold and the new rates wasn’t put into effect til 2016.


The co-lead for the Campaign For Prison Phone Justice, Steven Renderos stated that he was disappointed in the new, higher rates the FCC accepted. But remains hopeful that the new rates will start soon. This is somewhat great news because all calls made either locally or nationwide will be put under a standard set of rates. These new rates are still considered more affordable even if they are a higher rate than the year earlier.


During the same month that the FCC vote was made, Hillary Clinton had stated they would not accept any monies from prison lobbyist or anyone affiliated with the prison system. But before Clinton’s vow, she had accepted a small donation of $300,000 from a similar group.


The Overcharged Bill of Communication


Not every family can afford the communication price of some penitentiaries and prisons around the world. It is no recent news that prisons use the communication service to profit a lot from the inmates and their desperate attempts to have a decent contact with their families. Of course, this is not a rule that describes 100% of the facilities: Those that use a third-party communication provider service, with guaranteed security and transparency, usually maintain a relatively ethical price on the phone service.


This reality is harsher than many people think. There are hundreds of families that end up spending thousands of dollars on communication just to have regular contact with their family member that is incarcerated. Sometimes, it’s a fairly bad communication system.


There is also the other side of the spectrum. Companies like Securus Technologies Communications are developing ways for inmates to utilize a smartphone app from the agency to directly contact their families without having to clog the telephone waiting line. Of course, not every correction agency is willing to stop the profit that the traditional phone system brings, but the technology exists.


This sad truth is usually truer for families that can’t afford to visit their loved ones in prison. Sometimes, countries and borders separate them, and there’s nothing they can do besides calling the agency.


Robert Richardson, with a 60-year sentence at Louisiana State Penitentiary, speaks about how it’s the only way to maintain contact with his kids and his beloved wife, even though they are throwing away a significant chunk of the family’s income.


The communication industry, however, has a bright future ahead for families that want to maintain contact with their relatives and friends. More and more, law enforcers and the legislative sector are paying attention to these kinds of overbilling, and companies that provide communication systems are finding new ways to improve the communication while making welcome changes for both sides.


The Fight for Affordable Prison Calls

Every week, without fail, while Ulandis Forte was incarcerated he would speak with his grandmother, Martha Wright. As the years wore on, he realized that other inmates did not make or receive as many calls as him. In fact, Forte observed that inmates over time tended to communicate less with the outside world. While this could be for a number of reasons, it wasn’t until his grandmother, a middle-class retiree, told him how much of a financial burden the calls truly were, yet she refused to limit contact with her grandson. Instead, she reached out to the DC Prisoners’ Project and began seeking legal action, spearheading a group that brought about a class action suit against inmate phone companies and the Corrections Corporation of America, according to The Verge. In 2001, the lawsuit stagnated once a judge decided the petitioners would need to seek change with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, this did not stop Wright and fellow supporters. They called upon the FCC to limit rates to $0.20 a minute for cross-state debit calls and $0.25 for collect calls. It wasn’t until Mignon Clyburn was appointed as interim chairwoman of the FCC in 2009 that the tides began to turn. She saw the struggle as another provocation against the poor and sought to change it. That same year, the commission passed new laws limiting collect calls to $0.25. Of the FCC’s decision, Clyburn said, “This all began with one Washington, DC grandmother, Mrs. Martha Wright, who spoke truth to power in 2003, and reminded us that one voice can still spur a movement and drive meaningful change”. Upon being released after almost 20 years, Forte credits his seamless reintegration to the contact he was able to maintain with family during his incarceration.



Securus Technologies Receives Approval of Efficient Internal Control and Security

Securus Technologies, national provider of correctional facilities technology continues to build its reputation and integrity by allowing a third-party, an independent accounting & auditing firm complete a thorough and detailed evaluation. The firm also performed testing of internal controls, transactions, and other activities at Securus. The inmate telecommunications provider is the only provider in the industry to attain Service Organization Control Certification issued in an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Statement. It is the responsibility of an inmate technology provider to meet the needs of correctional institutions, including security and public safety with call management systems. SOC I reports give providers, inmates, families, and correctional facilities a peace of mind concerning security.



The Statement of Service Organization Control Certification validates Securus call management systems are secured and safe. It proves the systems accurately control, manage and process call records and recordings for security and investigation. Such information and investigative activities must rely on high technology management products. CEO of Securus, Richard Smith said in a PR Newswire news release that the SOC I Certification sets Securus apart from other inmate telecommunications providers because of the third-party review of their security and operational controls. He also said, during the certification process, all Securus Associates and accuracy of job performances were tested.




Securus Technologies is the leading civil and criminal justice technology provider in the U.S. The company provides services to nearly 3,400 law enforcement institutions in 48 states. Securus has 30 years of experience in the inmate telecommunications industry, offering inmate self-service, communication, information management, investigation, public information, and emergency response products and services. Richard A. Smith serves as Chief Executive Officer and runs the company’s daily operations. He ensures Securus maintains ethnical practices with their clients, consumers and the incarcerated.

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.