Global Tel Link: The Nation’s Leader in Exorbitant Prison Phone Rates

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

For many years prisoners and their families have bemoaned the exorbitant rates charged by companies that provide telephone services to the incarcerated.  Prisoners and their families, two groups chronically economically disadvantaged, have been abused and taken advantage of time and time again when merely trying to stay in contact.  This is plainly unacceptable from a prisoners’ rights standpoint and a social morality standpoint, too.  But it gets worse.  As we delve into the murky waters of prison phone contracts, those who do not yet understand how insidious and extortionate these contracts truly are, will come to demand for change, not for their own sakes or for society’s, but based upon a moral conviction and the desire to help keep families together, a term of incarceration notwithstanding.

The problem with prison phone contracts ironically enough doesn’t hinge on the various departments of corrections or the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  It isn’t even promulgated by prison phone providers either.  The issue, instead, has to do with the awarding of prison phone contracts.

Prison phone contracts are awarded based on a profit share model.  Companies such as Global Tel Link agree to charge prisoners and their families high phone rates and to share profits with either the local jail or prison, or the central administration of the prison system.  As such, the incentive to lower phone rates is actually reduced.  Instead, both corrections’ departments and prison phone providers strive to tack on as many fees and increased prison phone rates as much as possible to increase profits, as has been reported frequently in Prison Legal  News and at the Prison Law Blog.  Often, these contracts are awarded to the prison phone company which offers the largest kick-back rate.  In fact, prison phone companies are known to also give premiums away to encourage contracts.  Local jails have been known to receive free booking computer systems.  Sheriffs have been known to receive campaign donations.  And police departments have received free police cruisers.

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Prison News in Brief: Oklahoma through Tennessee

By Prison Legal News

This installment of Prison News in Brief concerns news from Oklahoma through Tennessee and is brought to us by our friends at Prison Legal News.

Oklahoma Prison News

Darren “Veneno” Padron, 22, is one of six prisoners accused of planning and carrying out the June 13, 2012 stabbing death of fellow prisoner Sonny J. Limpy, 25, at the GEO Group-operated Lawton Correctional Facility.  On July 18, 2013, Padron pleaded guilty to his role in the murder and was sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison with five suspended.  Also charged were Alonzo “Coon” Florez, Gerardo “Guito” Sanduval, Jose Garcia, Ryan “Frankie” Garcia, and Armando Luna.  Testimony indicated that the killing was ordered after Limpy refused to join “The 13 Movement,” an initiative to unify all Hispanic gangs under one leadership.

Oklahoma Prison News

On July 10, 2013, a prisoner at the Tulsa County Jail was found unresponsive during security checks.  A nurse who rushed to treat him experienced a sudden cardiac medical emergency and had to be taken to a local hospital.  Despite resuscitation efforts by jail staff and the Tulsa Fire Department, prisoner Brian Keith Perry, 41, was pronounced dead.  Investigators from the Sheriff’s Department ruled out foul play and Perry’s death is believed to be a suicide.  The nurse was admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Pakistan Prison News

On July 29, 2013, militants attacked a prison in northwest Pakistan and reportedly freed more than 250 prisoners.  Pakistan Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the assault and said 150 militants took part.  Officials had received a letter threatening an attack on the facility, but did not expect one so soon.  The militants arrived by car and motorcycles, then began a 41/2 hour assault on the prison using bombs, grenades, and guns.  Some of the attackers, wearing police uniforms, used megaphones to call out the names of specific prisoners.  Six police officers, six prisoners, and two civilians were killed, including one prisoner who was beheaded.

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