Currently I work on part of a fugitive task force that is responsible for locating the most dangerous suspects in the country. We got a tip there was a violent offender in the city, and he was laying low while the heat died down. We usually have very limited time to apprehend these dangerous fugitives because they are always moving fro city to city to stay one step ahead of the authorities. We could not afford to have this suspect getting away, so we sprang into action the minute we got the call.
In a new city, the fugitive will have to rely on family or friends to keep them off the radar, otherwise they would stick out like a sore thumb in the city. With no time to waste, we tried to get all our local informants to try and aid with the arrest, but no one knew anything. When you want to get the dirt on a criminal, you have to be willing to go where the criminals are right at home, so a trip to the local jail was in order. These inmates do not take kindly to police asking questions, but it did get them talking.
Securus Technologies is responsible for installing the modernized inmate telephone system we use in the jail to listen to calls the inmates are making. The company is based out of Dallas, has one thousand employees, and is run by CEO Richard Smith. The LBS software gives us the chance to hear all the calls from all the inmates without missing a single conversation. Our suspect was in fact a topic of many conversations, having made enemies with several rival gang members who pointed out in those calls where the street gang members might find him hiding. We got to the locations first, and took him in without incident.
It might come as a huge surprise to some folks that crime inside the jail is far worse than when these suspects were out on the street. As a corrections officer, on a daily basis I see inmates beaten, stabbed, and severely injured to the point they need to be hospitalized for months. When the inmates aren’t hurting each other, they turn that aggression to the guards, so we have to be on our toes every second of every day.
These inmates have an edge over us in a number of ways. The inmates outnumber the officers 4:1 in most cases, they have the element of surprise on their side, and they have access to weapons they can use to cause severe bodily harm. In order to limit the trouble, we have to eliminate the weapons threat, but that is easier said than done. We try to check each visitor that comes to see the inmates, but these inmates are very crafty at getting what they need.
Once the inmates have the weapons, they have to conceal them until they are to be used. So we are constantly performing surprise cell inspections to uncover these weapons. Even when we show up unannounced, the inmates are one step ahead, hiding things in the yard or in locations of the jail we don’t check. Recently, Securus Technologies installed an inmate call system that has given us a tool we can use to combat these violent episodes.
I was trained on the Securus Technologies phone system and LBS software, and within days I was able to pick up chatter between inmates and their families discussing getting weapons through the visitors center. Their coded messages were no match for the software, and we now are spotting those weapons long before they ever can get into the hands of the inmates.
Let’s play a thought experiment. I am going to explain a particular business arrangement and you get to decide what you would like to do about it.
You are the head of a telecommunications company. A state government recently awarded you an exclusive contract. This contract makes you the only provider of telephone services to a particular jail in the state. Every single prisoner inside of that prison facility must use your services to communicate with the outside world. From here, you have two distinct choices. You can cut costs by hiring a bare-bones staff and providing a poor phone call quality, or you can invest money into your telephone services, staff and customer service. Which would you choose?
If you picked the first option, you are likely thinking about your own bottom line. You stand to make the most money by cutting costs and providing an inferior service. This is the option that a $500 million per year company called Global Tel-Link perpetually chooses. Customer reviews of this company are terrible and they have recently made the pages of the New York Times for unethical practices. This option is what a cutthroat business would do. Unfortunately, this first option is made at the expense of prisoners and their families.
If you chose the second option, then you took the high road like Securus Technologies. The company has perpetually demonstrated a commitment to customer service and satisfaction. This approach was recently recognized by the Better Business Bureau of Texas. The BBB recently gave the telecommunications company accreditation for choosing ethical business practices and transparency.
I am hoping that more state governments and prisons choose Securus moving forward. Our incredibly vulnerable prison population does not need predatory companies taking advantage of them. Everybody deserves respect and respect is exactly what Securus gives to our prison population.
Since its inception in the mid-2000s, video visitation has become the dominant mode of inmate communications throughout U.S. prisons. The leader in this novel form of prison communications is global corrections leader Securus Technologies. Driven by in-house research and a flurry of patents, Securus’ brand of video visitation has allowed inmates to stay connected to their loved ones in ways not previously feasible. But perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of this have been the families of inmates themselves.
The truth is, the old in-person visitation system was riddled with inadequacies and exorbitant costs that many times caused inmates to effectively serve out their entire sentences without ever seeing their family. Add to that the historic problems with overcharging for prison phone calls and many prisoners became totally isolated from their outside lives. A period of incarceration was almost as if the inmate had disappeared completely. This was not psychologically healthy for the inmates nor was it healthy for the operation of the institutions where such inmates were housed.
A far better service at a tiny fraction of the cost
Prior to 2005 or so, families that wanted to visit their incarcerated loved ones had but one option: drive to the prison and visit them in person. This sounded fine in theory. But in practice, it often turned out to be far more than many families could reasonably bear.
The United States is a vaster land than many appreciate. Especially for those who have spent the majority of their lives sequestered within the inner city, the sheer expanse of even intrastate distance often befuddles the mind. Take for example a family whose son is convicted of a felony in San Diego. He is sent to San Quentin, on the shores of the San Francisco bay. The family, already devastated by the sentence, comes to find out that to visit their son they will have to drive seven and a half hours one way. For many families this amounts to the imposition of an additional sentence – they will not be able to afford to see their loved ones until they are released from custody.
While trekking even half the distance of one state may cost a large family in excess of $500, a video visitation often will cost less than five. Such enormous savings are allowing families to stay connected that would have been otherwise unable. Video visitation allows an inmate to hold onto their outside life and the sense of purpose that comes with it.
Securus Technologies leads in the provision of technical solutions to civil and criminal justice in correction facilities. On September 14th, 2015, Global Tel Link (GTL) issued a misleading and inaccurate press release about Securus Technologies. In turn, Securus Technologies has issued a press release correcting GTL’s misleading statement. Located in Dallas, Texas, Securus Technologies attends to over 3,000 law enforcement agencies and over one million inmates throughout North America. Leveraging its vast experience in the industry, Securus Technologies provides biometric analysis, emergency response, and inmates’ self-service products and services across the US.
According to Securus Technologies’ CEO, Richard Smith, GTL has mischaracterized the recent Patent trial. He added that GTL attempted to suggest that Securus Technologies has an inferior technology and a less patent portfolio versus them, claims that are untrue. Richard said that GTL would not accept Securus’ technology challenge because their technology would probably prevail.
Securus Technologies files the patent for the same reason as GTL. As such, Securus Technologies have spent over $800 million in developing proprietary technology. Over the years, Securus Technologies’ holds an excellent reputation in developing software and products used in correction facilities and law enforcement agencies. Securus Technologies protects its patent portfolio with the US Patents, which is approved by the US Patent Office. Therefore, it is incredulous for GTL to claim that Securus Technologies should not protect its work.
Smith pointed out that GTL has a history of issuing factually accurate patent-related statements. As such, it is not surprising that GTL’s press release about Securus Technologies is inaccurate and misleading. In fact, GTL is known for giving misleading and incorrect information. Over the past ten years, GTL signed an agreement with Securus to use their patent, and suddenly they are now disregarding it. Therefore, Securus Technologies’ customers should count on the global-scale services provider as it commits to developing and implementing reliable solutions to solve specific customers’ problems.