It may be difficult to really get a clear idea of the quality of service that Global Tel-Link provides if you haven’t used the service, or if you do not know anybody who has used the service. However, in this day and age you can just look up online forums to see what people have to say about the service that Global Tel-Link provides. The vast majority of people online have given Global Tel-Link negative reviews. Most of the reviews sound confused, fed-up, angry and tired. Global Tel-Link boasts that it serves eighty-five percent of inmates in the United States, yet it does not give the best service. Why is this so? Why is Global Tel-Link chosen by detention centers if it gives not-the-best service? There is a reason for this.http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-tel-link-gtl-issues-inaccurate-press-release–securus-corrects-inaccuracies-300264749.html
Prisons do not necessarily judge phone service companies based upon quality; they judge based upon which company can slip them the most money. Global Tel-Link has made it’s way to the top in the detention center telecommunications industry because it has been able to give detention centers the best offers in contracts. The ones who are directly using the telecommunications services for the most part– the loved ones of prisoners, do not have a say in which phone companies to use, despite the fact that they are expected to flip the bills for calls. This intuitively goes against the ways of our free market, capitalistic system to a point where it seems wrong. Normally, people are able to choose their phone companies and terms of service, for the most part. When it comes to the inmate telecommunications industry, consumer demand does not rule the success of phone companies—the interests of facilities to make as much money as possible and what phone companies can offer to facilities rule the success of phone companies
I recently received a phone call from the prison where my boyfriend is at, but I knew that phone calls couldn’t be made after a certain time unless it was an emergency. This call was received after one in the morning. I didn’t think that it would be a good call. When I answered, I was told that my boyfriend had been injured. The caller knew his name and the facility. In order to get more information, I had to call one of the people at the jail using the number that was provided.
Read more on Bloomberg.com about GTL
I was asked to use *72 in along with the number. This is where the company gets you, and most of the time, the company is Global Tel. When you enter the code before the phone number, it forwards the call to another person. Once the number is forwarded, then the other person can use the account and the money in that account to accept phone calls. It’s essentially Global Tel working with other people in order to get more money and to allow people who can’t afford to accept phone calls a way to talk to the people who are in jail. I reported this issue, but there hasn’t been anything done about it yet.
Inmates at San Luis Obispo County Jail and their families and friends can now be connected through calling services at a much lower charge than they have been used to. However, the new rules have their downside as well. The county will no longer afford to finance programs that it considers important to the welfare of the inmates as well those mandated by the state.
The Impact of Inevitable Losses
With an annual loss of about $162, 000, the county jail is facing difficulties in providing such services as educational courses, legal resources, vocational programs, counseling, treatment for drug abuse inmate patients and even transportation. Only two options remain: the inmates have to be content with the few services the jail can afford or more funding have to be sought from Board of Supervisors.
Although the regulations have been considered for a long time, their full impact on the jail programs will just begin to be felt. While the county has been earning a 56 percent commission from the gross income obtained from the calling service, it has now been dropped to 17 percent. This translates to $0.05 per minute of the $0.30 a minute flat rate charged for the inmate call services.
The county runs the Inmate Welfare Fund with the use of a big chunk of revenue obtained from the calling service. According to Tony Cipolla, the sheriff’s spokesperson, commissions from the phone charges accounted for approximately 67 percent of the fund in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Therefore, it is about $ 211,000 of the $315,000 needed to operate the fund.
Although the reduced calling rates are a great relief to inmates and their loved ones, they will have a great impact on their welfare as the programs under which most of the services are offered will be crippled. The only remaining source of income for the jail is the commissary which brings in around $104,000 – an equivalent of 33 percent of the amount required to run the fund. The money is earned from sale of personal items to inmates. They include stationery, hygiene necessities and snacks.
High phone call rates on inmate’s communication services have been found to be imposed deliberately for the benefit of correctional center’s benefit. The high calls prompted Peter Wagner, the Prison Policy Initiative Executive to seek clarification on the issue. Unluckily, the Hampden County Sherriff Department could not attend to him.
According to terms signed in a contract between Hampden County jail and Global Tel Link, a fifteen-minute call could cost $17. 74% of the amount was to fund inmate welfare services. However, prisoners in the county jail incurred higher expenses than those outlined in the contract. Hampden County jail commissions were 23% higher than those collected in other jails within the State.
The Federal Communications Commission’s effort to regulate the high fees did not bear fruit. Sherriff Michael J. Ashe threatened to do away with the privilege of inmate communications services if FCC moved to regulate their call rates.
The county communications officer, Stephen O’Neil, supported Sherriff Michael’s statement saying that the jail facility incurred high costs to install inmate communications devices. As a result, he maintained that prisons depended on the commissions to improve the inmates’ welfare activities like education, parties, and religious services.
However, records showed that the Hampden Sherriff department was making profits to the tune of $89,000 from the inmate phone call commissions. The high figure implied that the high rates being imposed on inmates were sufficient to raise money that could be used to finance jail maintenance for two months.
In addition to the high call rates being charged by county jails, Global Tel Link was not making life any better for inmates who wished to communicate with people outside prison. The firm was demanding users to deposit a premium fee into their accounts before they could use their services.
The FCC intervened by setting a standard rate that could be utilized in prison facilities. For this reason, inmates detained in Hampden County incur a call rate of 12 cents per minute.
Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE) of the Louisiana chapter recognized Foster Campbell for his giant efforts in ensuring that inmates can communicate with their loved ones. He has stopped phone service violation by service providers in Louisiana jails and prisons. Foster Campbell is a Public Service Commissioner who led the PSC investigations to monitor phone calls charges and other extra fees charged by the service providers. Correctional facilities hire specific companies to run telephone systems used by inmates for communication. The 2011-2012 PSC investigations found out that the inmate call rates were approximately 30 times higher than normal calls.
Foster and his team also found out that service providers repeatedly ignored commissions and illegally added a variety of charges to customer bills. These findings led to the enactment of new reforms. The initiative has lowered the calling rates of prisons and jails by 25% besides cancelling illegal additional fees. Despite the weakening new reforms, the investigation in Louisiana pushed for a national crackdown on the prison and jails telephone industry by FCC in 2015. In his speech, Checo Yancy, the director of LA CURE appreciated Campbell’s efforts. He added that it is rare to find elected officials being responsible and taking up active roles like Foster. He congratulated Foster for fighting for prisoners and their loved ones. In addition, Campbell expressed his pleasure to work with CURE to help Louisiana’s 40,000 inmates and their families. He said that they uncovered immoral and dishonest practices by the telephone companies. Foster asserts that he stepped in to protect inmates and their loved ones against violation, as they lack power to fight back. He concluded by lauding the people of Louisiana for condemning such acts in prisons and jails. He pointed out that it is now convenient for inmates to communicate often with their loved ones. This information was originally reported on The Times as highlighted in the link below http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/2016/07/13/campbell-praised-inmate-telephone-reforms/87041408/
The communication costs for inmates and their families t have telephone contact has been difficult to afford for many years. Despite appeals made to the prison officials, communication companies providing service and even the SEC, little was ever done to correct the price gauging. This was worsened by the fact that 98 percent of the phone rates were actually paid back to the prison where the inmate was incarcerated!
New York Leads in DOC Innovations
New York was one of the initial states who took it upon their own legislative shoulders to eliminate such pay back of telecommunication costs, thereby lowering phone costs considerably. They also awarded the telecommunication contract in accordance with lower rates and better services, discarding the previous contract procedures. After New York’s success, the SEC was forced to undertake its own revision after hearing the numbers of complaints of families and prisoners themselves.
SEC Ruling Revises Procedure
This year, the federal government has finally announced their forthcoming innovations and revisions to their procedures regarding inmate phone costs. Despite lagging behind the individual states who have initiated better policies, the procedure followed by the federal government in receiving complaints of issues from those affected was an appreciated beginning event.
Among the changes to be initiated by the federal system are:
- Contract Awarding by Rate/Service
- Ceasing Payment of Phone Rates to Prison;
- Changing Competitive Bidding for Service
Telecommunications Companies Welcome New Procedures
The changes that will regulate the telecommunications industry’s services to inmates is a win-win procedure change, inasmuch as the telecommunication companies have expressed their own desire for change and ceasing of their need for competitive bidding. Combined with the relief and improved services to inmates and their families at lower costs, the innovations are expected to result in a tremendous improvement in inmate phone services and costs.
META Description: Article recaps federal innovations being made in the inmate telecommunications industry by ceasing prison pay back of phone charges,lowering of phone charges,and new contract procedures to gain better service at lower costs.
The FCC is not only blowing the whistle on the cost of phone calls in and out of prisons, they are working to install some strict regulations to better control the costs. Depending on the jail or prison itself, the structure and the payments will vary. However, according to an article by the Washington Post, it is not uncommon for inmates and those that they have on the outside to be spending an average cost of up to $14 per minute. That has meant that many inmates are either unable to maintain communications with the outside world, or if they are able to charge their calls to a special amount, they are leaving prison and entering the world with a steep debt. All of this is due the way that the private communications companies that have been contracting with these jails and prisons have has the ability to price gauge, having a negative effect on the prisons, their families, and the inmates themselves.
Now, the federal government is stepping in and applying federal regulations that will prevent them from being able to do so and providing some protection to the prisoners and their families. In the article by the post, it says that the regulation committee, The Federal Communications Commission, otherwise known as the FCC, has written the new regulations to mandate that the cost of a 15 minute call can be no higher than $1.65. That is a huge difference that will have a lasting and meaningful impact on the prisoners and their families. The commissioner of the FCC Mignon Clyburn, is aware of the “incredible burden” of the costly phone calls. She knows that this will be a huge relief.
For more information or to read the original article written by the Washington Post and discussed in this article please visit: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2015/10/26/phone-calls-wont-cost-up-to-14-a-minute-anymore-but-heres-how-prisoners-families-are-still-being-fleeced/