Maintaining order behind prison walls is taken very seriously. Authorities within prisons and jails use their power to grant simple necessities as a method to control their populations. Basic items such as food, bedding and medical supplies are provided to inmates in order for them to function. The communication is another valued privilege in an incarceration facility. Inmates need help from the outside in order to execute the right to talk to friends and loved ones. Inmate communication companies has developed shrewd business models in order to control this particular market. They sign contracts that give them complete access to the facility that they are working in. This prevents the customers from reaching out to other service providers to obtain a better pricing option. The rates can be paid by billing an outside source or opening an account for the inmate themselves. The end result is an expensive business relationship that is carefully managed by executives of the facilities and the communication companies.
There are several programs in place that allow customers of inmate services companies to maintain a steady account. Direct debit is commonly used. The money is billed to an account set up by the customer on the outside. The account is charged every time the service is used. Prices for this particular plan can be as much as one dollar per minute. Consumers have complained. However, they have a gained very little leverage in negotiating better rates with the service providers.
Inmates can also maintain an account that is funded by an outside source. This allows them to use the funds to make contact with whoever they see fit. This account works well for those who do not want to be directly billed for an inmate activities. The account is open for anyone to buy service for inmate usage.