FCC Tries to Discredit Cap Arguments From Inmate Communication Providers

There is another example of the never-ending fight between the haves and the have nots, which is taking place within the inmate communication industry. There is a very vocal group of people who have been customers of the largest companies in this industry for a while. These people have loved ones in jail and have been subjected to phone rates that some would call outrageous. The rates were as high as $500 a month, which the FCC deemed unfair.

 

The FCC passed a mandated cap of 11 cents. This was a reasonable amount, and the FCC attempted to impose this cap on companies like Global Tel-Link and Securus. These are the two largest corporations in the industry and are bitter competitors but remain united on this fight. Both argued that the cap would cut profits severely, and they will be unable to provide quality service to customers.

 

The companies also argued that many of the prisons that these companies have contracts with also take a good chunk of the money, which is used to help inmates by providing counseling or similar services. It should come to no surprise that these companies took the FCC and its proposal to court. The FCC lost, in a sense, since the judge decided to delay the cap.

 

The FCC did not anticipate this loss but are now attempting to weaken the arguments that Global Tel-Link and Securus are putting out there. The FCC just introduced a new cap of 13 cents, which should stop these companies from saying that the cap is too high.

 

There is no telling whether this will help ensure that the FCC is able to impose the cap, which is going to end up helping thousands of family members who just cannot afford the high rates that the inmate communication industry has gotten away with charging.

 

Inmate Communication Pays

There are various aspects of running a correctional facility that go unnoticed by the public. The security that goes into maintaining an inmate population is obvious. Stories are told about the relationship between prison guards and the individuals they are in charge of looking after. However, the supplies that go into sustaining life in a prison or jail cost real money. Inmates need food, bedding, medical attention and entertainment. The ability to communicate with the outside world is another cherished commodity in correctional facilities. People inside desire to keep in touch with loved ones they have left behind. Inmate communication companies charge a pretty penny for these services. The competition for business in inmate communication has gotten so serious that large companies pay bonuses to prison officials for exclusive access to their facilities. This allows them to control the distribution and pricing of their products. Customers are at the mercy of the service providers. Lack of competition means that there are no other alternatives in terms of service. Consumers must except the rates that are presented if they wish to remain in contact with someone behind the wall.

There are several plans in place to provide the service that is needed. Direct debit is very common. Rates are charged to an account and the funds are taken directly from the account as usage grows. The rates for this service are extremely high compared to regular phone services. Calls cost as much as one dollar per minute.

Other plans allow inmates to maintain an account from inside. Someone on the outside can pay the balance. Inmates can then use their service to call whoever they choose. The inmate account can be funded by anyone who has access. It takes the burden off of one person to maintain the balance.

Monthly program are also available for those who conduct frequent business with people on the inside.

 

Man Spends Five Months Behind Bars Because He Didn’t Know His Bail

A man spent five months in New York Rikers Island Prison due to poor communication between the parties handling his case. Aitabdel Salem, a native Algerian had served his sentence only to realize that his bail was only $ 2. Allegedly no one told him about the bail, and he thought it was set at $25,000.

 

According to New York Daily News, Salem was arrested and charged for attacking a police officer who was arresting him due to theft of a coat from a local store. His bail was initially set at $25,000 before the charges were dropped because prosecutors failed to get an indictment for the alleged assault.

 

However, Salem was still charged for tampering with a street card machine. Since the charges were considered as minor, his bail was slashed from $25,000 to $2. The 41-year-old native Algerian was unaware of the changes and opted to go to prison because he could not ford $ 25,000 bail.

 

When confronted for a comment, Salem angrily acknowledged that no one told him about the changes made by the prosecutor. He expressed deep frustration and dismay about how his case was handled. He was shocked that the parties involved unconscionably mishandled the situation, and there was no communication by his lawyer telling him that his bail had been slashed.

 

His attorneys, Glenn Hardy and Theodore Goldbergh were quick to place the blame on his former lawyer. They claimed that he was the one who handled the case and should be questioned. However, attempt to reach the former attorney was not fruitful.

 

New York Rikers Island is known for gang violence and poor living conditions. It is also a beehive of corruption among the prison guards. According to Mother Jones’ ranking, it is one of the Americas worst prisons. Excellent communication could have saved Salem five months in Prison.

 

 

Keefe Group is Making Life Bearable Behind the Prison Walls

Keefe Group is a company based in the United States that offers services to correctional facilities. The company specializes in the sale of prepaid debit cards and processing inmate’s trust funds, processing inmate’s deposit, sell of music players, and items such as food, tobacco, and personal hygiene products. All these items are made available to inmates at affordable prices.

What to expect from Keefe Group

The company’s headquarters is in St. Lois and Missouri, and it has other branches all over the country. Keefe Group is composed of Keefe Commissary, Keefe Supply Company, Advanced Technologies Group, Access Securepak, ICSolutions, and Access Corrections. Keefe Supply Company supplies shoes, electronics, clothing, and personal items while Keefe Commissary provides technology services. Access Securepak and Access Corrections provides inmate package program and access services respectively. ICSolutions provides telecommunication products and customer related services. Advanced Technologies Group develops software products that help prisons to run smoothly while assisting inmates to become self-reliant after serving their sentence.

Aside from supplying products, the company has a manufacturing division that packages private-label products and a variety of brands. One unique aspect about Keefe Group according to STL Today is that it packages its commissary products in hygienically sealed paper pouches, avoiding metallic and glass containers. This consideration ensures security and minimizes threats in prisons.

Keefe Group’s achievements

Keefe Group has been operational since 1975. The firm serves and works closely with correctional facilities. It has made a name for itself as one of the leading service providers that consistently pioneers in the evolution of new products. Due to its reputation, Keefe Group’s contracts have been renewed in most correctional facilities. A report by kingfish1935 reveals that the firm generates revenues of up to over $ 40 million through MDOC inmate services. Its sister- company, GT Enterprise, generates revenues amounting to $ 3 million through public records.

Keefe Group purchased GT Enterprise, which was previously owned by Cecil McCrory about eight years ago. The MDOC contract that generated millions of dollars was approved in 2006 and amended a year later. Since 2008, GT Enterprise has been operating under the umbrella of Centric Group, which is also the parent company of Keefe Group.

 

FCC Regulations for Inmates’ Phone Calls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is protecting inmates and their families from high phone bills. Most inmates’ options for calls are limited to pre-paid or debit accounts, or collect calls. Prisoners usually have no choice of provider. And rates have been unrestricted, often leading to high phone bills for inmates’ families.

In August 2016, the FCC set new rate caps for inmates’ calls.

A court order has stayed this regulation. Until judicial review, interim rates apply. Inmates and their families pay 21 cents per minute for prepaid or debit calls and 25 cents per minute for collect calls. These rates apply only to interstate long-distance calls.

 

The FCC has restricted ancillary services and fees:

  • Providers may pass the costs of taxes and regulatory fees to consumers.
  • $3.00 cap on automated payment fees (payments by a kiosk, the web, or interactive voice response).
  • $5.95 limit on Live Agent fees (calls on accounts that have the option of a live operator).
  • $2.00 cap on paper bills and statements.
  • No charge for electronic bills and statements.
  • No funding minimums for prepaid accounts. No Maximums under $50.
  • Providers may pass third-party financial fees, such as credit card processing fees, to users without markup.

The FCC’s regulations cap charges for text telephone (TTY) rates:

 

  • TTY-to-TTY calls are limited to 25 percent of the cost of traditional calls.
  • No charge for TTY-to-voice or voice-to-TTY calls.

 

Providers may not block collect calls simply for lack of prior billing relationships with the called party’s telephone company unless the provider offers pre-paid collect, pre-paid, or debit options.

 

When inmates call collect, service providers must, before connecting, identify themselves to the called parties and permit called parties to end calls without charge before the calls are connected.

These rules apply only to interstate providers.

 

 

The New Inmate Telephone Service Rate Caps by FCC

The vulnerable members of the society such as children with incarcerated parents have been exploited by exorbitant prison call bills for quite some time now. This is as a result of the action by the prisons and jails to contract monopoly phoning companies to offer the services at very high rates. However, FCC is seeking to stop this by implementing new caps on calling rates and fees.

 

According to the August 2016 proposed bill from FCC regarding the implementation of the new cap on the calling rates, the local and long distance charges were to be reduced or regulated. However, the bill has since been delayed by the judicial court leaving the former interim in action. Some of the acts under the bill included a limitation on the type of the ancillary services offered and capping the total amount charged by providers to the inmates.

 

One of the leading inmate communications providers is Securus Technologies. Securus pioneers in providing legal and civil technology. In March the previous year, they witnessed a record of prisoner communications that was off the charts. That is owed to their reliable platform. Besides, their Voice over Internet Protocol VoIP is one of the largest globally serving several correctional facilities with video and audio calls.

 

The provider has everybody supported by one platform. The strategy plays a major role in saving money as well as making the telecommunication system management easier. Securus Technologies have their own software which they regularly upgrade to support all the prison they can reach irrespective of the capacity.

 

In this facility, necessary background checks are carried out before putting the platform to use. They also back up the call details for up to 10 years in case a reference is needed.

 

Implementation of the commission’s regulations on the call rates can only be attained if the services offered in the phoning services are standardized. That can be achieved by making the providers of various jails bid for contracts, and the best is chosen.

 

 

Global Tel-Link Is a Profitable Phone Company

It is a tragedy when children are separated from their mother or father because they broke the law and were sent to prison. Some inmates are lucky enough to be in a prison that is close to their family. This allows them to make regular visits. However, many inmates are not so fortunate. These people can only talk to their loved ones on the phone. This wouldn’t be so bad if they were not forced to pay outrageous prices. Unfortunately, the prison phone industry is operated by companies who care about profits first and human beings second.

Global Tel-Link has been the prison phone company to receive the most criticism from the media organizations such as Bloomberg regarding the way they have conducted their business affairs. The rates they charge inmates are quite high. Companies like GTL in the prison phone industry can make a great deal of money. This is because each prison is a separate monopoly. Only one phone provider is allowed to offer phone service for a prison at any given time. This prevents prisoners from being able to shop around. Needless to say, the prison phone companies love this because every inmate will need to make calls at some point. When they do, that money will go to them and nobody else.

The FCC was asked to look into the business dealings of Global Tel-Link to see if they were doing anything criminal. The FCC determined that they were not guilty of breaking any laws. However, they also did not like the high rates being charged. Therefore, a limit of 25 cents was placed on calls for each minute the caller was on the line. This was viewed as a step in the right direction by the media. However, it is agreed that the prison phone industry as a whole needs stricter rules. To learn more about GTL’s alleged fraud, watch this YouTube video.

If you want to read more about Global Tel-Link, go to https://www.consumeraffairs.com/cell_phones/global_tel_link.html.

Finally: One Worthy of Honor!

In recent news, it appears that:

“Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is being recognized for his efforts to stop telephone companies from charging high rates and illegal fees on telephone calls from Louisiana jails and prisons. Specialized firms are hired by correctional facilities to run telephone systems used by inmates.” (http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/2016/07/13/campbell-praised-inmate-telephone-reforms/87041408/)

 

This is worthy of honor, and to be remembered. It is certainly excellent, and worthy to note….especially among so much daily negative news which tends to flow in and make things very gloomy for viewers and readers. The positive aspects of what happens in our world today certainly need to be highlighted with more intensifying frequency.

 

According to the original article cited above, it appears that the outside relatives of the involved inmates seem to make the calls. What’s more—-it seems that Mr. Campbell had investigated and found that the rates for the calls made by the prisoners themselves were averaged at thirty times higher than all calls made ‘on the outside’. This is worth noting. The mere fact alone speaks highly in its own favor, when you consider the larger and overarching implications of such a conclusion and its pre-strategy.

 

Also,

“The investigation also found that telephone companies routinely ignored commission orders and added a variety of illegal fees to customer bills. Examples included $10 to buy a $50 block of time, $2.50 to add a telephone to the account, and $5 to obtain a refund.”(http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/2016/07/13/campbell-praised-inmate-telephone-reforms/87041408/)

 

 

So, in essence, this is saying that we really do live in a world that is ‘every man for himself’ or ‘fend for all’. It is apparently becoming more difficult in knowing exactly who to trust and who to not trust, how to go about one’s own business in safety and privacy, and what the definitions of such words even mean anymore.

IC Solutions: They Have Earned The Nasty Reputation

IC Solutions is a jail phone services provider and for many people, that might seem like a pretty cut and dry type of business. The family, friends, and loved ones of the inmate pay the bill while the inmate gets to speak to them. IC Solutions, of course, makes the money. On paper, everything with that seems fine and dandy, but in reality, there is a lot more to it than that. It is a shady business that also has a nasty reputation. When one takes the time to look them up online, they will not find any good articles about them.

Instead, they will find links like this, http://icsolutions.pissedconsumer.com/state/arizona.html, which shares the many issues that the customers have with IC Solutions. As with most companies, it starts with customer service, and IC Solutions has some of the poorest customer service on the planet. They don’t make any sort of effort to resolve the issue at hand. Many customers have complained about having issues with dropped calls. With these dropped calls, it would seem like the sensible thing to do would be to refund the customers or offer some sort of discounted price. There is nothing about IC Solutions that is sensible or practical.

They seem to foam and froth at the mouth over money. That is what drives them, inspires them, and gets them up in the morning. While it is great to have a desire to make money and make a profit, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Clearly, IC Solutions is doing it the wrong way and has been doing it the wrong way for a while, which is why they have so many unhappy customers and such a nasty and horrible reputation online and all over. That does not happen by accident. To learn more about the company. visit sj-r.com.

 

Fight Keefe Food Group Corruption

We are here to bring it to the attention of the masses about the corruption deals of Keefe Food Group. For this reason, we are here to expose their dealings to make it a better place. In North American prisons, the United States has worked to remain in contact with the companies to make the, better in their deals. The company as revealed by kingfish1935 is also a monopoly of in the industry to offer its products and services. One of the main reasons why we deem it as corrupt is how they maintain a clean sheet to take the prison contracts like no other companies were competing for the same resource.

It appears that the Centric Business Conglomerate, the owning company of Keefe Group, has too many connections in the state prisons in North America for this reason, they have engaged in working with the jail officials to make them get the contracts that would otherwise become better if other people were in control. Our brothers and sisters in prison are the ones suffering from these people because of its grave deals. For this reason, they have worked to stay in contrast with other people to make the prison environment a better place to live and correct behavior.

We are all calling upon the STL Today readers to take action through their internet and social media forums to expose the company through their dealings in corruption. As a matter of fact, Keefe Food Group has worked with the state prison officials to have their commodity prices high to make sure they get enough money to pay back the prison officials for the business rendered. One of the prison officials was convicted for engaging in corrupt dealings with the company in the United States.

If all prisoners had the success to terminate the era of the Keefe Food Group monopoly in prison, they would have succeeded by now. For this reason, we must help the prisoners to make a better impact in their words in society. As a matter of fact, many other people are suffering from the corruption deals in prison setups. Social media and the internet of things must help the people.