“Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil and criminal justice technology solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, shared the nation’s shock and dismay as yet another Facebook Live video filmed by an inmate with a contraband cellphone circulated the Internet… The 3 ½ minute video filmed inside Evans Correctional Institution allegedly depicts 31-year-old Jose Ariel Rivera, an inmate serving a 10-year sentence for burglary, brandishing a knife.” (1)
What prompted this technology at Securus
“One of the present consultants of Securus Technologies once worked in a correctional facility, and he explained that he was one of the victims of those prisoners who have access to contraband cell phones. He stated that two armed male intruders went to his house, and assaulted him. The armed intruders revealed to him that they were instructed by a prisoner to harass and kill him because he keeps on confiscating cell phones inside the prison.” (2) “Robert Johnson, worked at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina. He’d been in corrections for 15 years and his primary job was to confiscate contraband.”(3) Obviously his last confiscation cost an inmate dearly. Using a contraband cellphone the inmate ordered a hit on the officer, his home was invaded and for $6,000.00 wired to a Greendot card by the inmate the officer was shot 5 times in the chest. It should have killed him but he survived and went on to make sure this could not happen to others. (3)
There are two sides to this issue. Danger vs Rehabilitation.
On one side you have career criminals. These folks commit crime and violence as an occupation. They know they will eventually do time and take steps beforehand to keep their business operational. They put money aside specifically to cover the eventual period of internment. They have associates that are partners or associates and career criminals that keep their presence (business) on the street, even when they are in prison. They know the prison phones are always monitored so they get contraband cell phones and use them to continue to run their business both on the street and often on the prison black market. Mr. Johnson is just one of a vast number of instances of crime and violence that were directed by prisoners while in prison. That is a problem that had to end. On the other hand there are a significant number of inmates that are not career criminals, desire rehabilitation and a new chance but face strong odds against success. They are surrounded every day by all types of inmates. The topic of conversation is crime, the social structure is tight, prison libraries are a joke and so are most funded opportunities to change while an inmate. Prison phones are often broken, and talk time is limited. I a single year of this type of seclusion from society most inmates will have been offered work in crime by another inmate. That could be the only choice they feel they have when discharged. The revolving door concept begins on the inside, not in the courts. These inmates should be allowed the chance to interact with others on the outside to begin their path to rehabilitation and a productive future.
This is where Securus threw me a curve. After reading things like:
- “Securus’ WCS is the only contraband interdiction technology tested, accepted, and proven effective in a live prison environment”(1)
- “Securus’ WCS has already detected and prevented over 1.7 million illegal communication attempts from eight US correctional facilities” (1)
- “Between July of 2016 and July of 2017, Securus’ WCS detected and prevented over 1.7 million illegal communication attempts in eight U.S. correctional facilities.” (1)
I visited their website, The first thing I saw was not about restriction, public safety, investigative technology, corrections technology, or even monitoring technology (all of which they offer). The first thing I saw was called “Friends and Family”(4) It appears Securus does as much to support communication with the outside for inmates as it does to prevent improper use of the same.
“Securus Invests More Than $1 Billion in Products and Technologies That Improve Inmate Lives and Security”, Business Wire article titled: Securus Listens Carefully to Inmates and Friends/Family Members Before Making Investments in Technologies (5) In this article they cite a list of concerns and needs voiced by both inmates and correction officers equally. (5)
Then I noticed Securus took the initiative to produce an Electronic Medical Records system for prisons, complete with Televisits (the ability to have an online visit with your Primary Care Doctor at home). These are serious improvements in inmate care compared to the past. This shows a company dedicated to every facet of the field they chose.(4)
With “30 years of experience serving the corrections industry”. And now “serving approximately 3,400 correctional facilities and more than 1.2 million inmates in 48 states” combined with such a vast and equal array of services to both the Prison and each inmate (4), if I worked there I would go home each night feeling good about what I did for a living.
(1) Securus Technologies: Wireless Containment Solutions Could Have Prevented Latest Inmate Facebook Live Video – Business Wire, August 14, 2017 – https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170814005871/en/Securus-Technologies-Wireless-Containment-Solutions-Prevented-Latest
(2) Securus Technologies: Introducing Wireless Containment Systems – Dirty Friendz – Marlon Weber, January 15, 2018 – http://dirtyfriendz.com/securus-technologies-introducing-wireless-containment-systems/
(3) Ex-Corrections Officer Works to Disconnect Inmates’ Cell Phones – NBC 6 South Florida – Willard Shepard, Nov 6, 2017 – https://www.nbcmiami.com/investigations/Ex-Corrections-Officer-Works-to-Disconnect-Inmates-Cell-Phones-455464753.html
(4) Securus Technologies Website – Friends and Family – https://securustech.net/friends
(5) Securus Listens Carefully to Inmates and Friends/Family Members Before Making Investments in Technologies – Business Wire, October 17, 2017 – https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171017006818/en/Securus-Listens-Carefully-Inmates-FriendsFamily-Members-Making