Prison phone industry to become a duopoly, ruining lives
New York city council just passed a bill
that would let jailed detainees place domestic phone calls for free, a significant victory for inmates and their families, who become victims of the high costs of the capitalistic prison system. The US jail and prison phone services are outsourced to private providers, whose fees have reached as much as $25 for a 15-minute call. Securus Technologies wants to buy a smaller competitor, ICSolutions, which would leave prison-industry telecommunications dominated by only two providers, Securus and Global Tel Link, creating a duopoly amassing about 84% of the prison phone industry, calculated by The Prison Policy Initiative
. Securus, is owned by Platinum Equity, a private equity firm which is run by Tom Gores, the owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
So what’s the takeaway?
- Securus is planning to dominate beyond the prison-phone industry, positioning itself as a “one-stop shop” to governments, making it harder for a prison facility to switch to a different provider. It provides tablets, video visitation, email, inmate account infrastructure, and is expanding into medical services
. Organizations have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to block the sale and prevent these companies from exploiting loopholes within the system.