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Inmates Subject to Video Chat Price Gouging

September 19, 2017

Prison is not an ideal place to be but the prospect of having visitors can brighten any inmate’s day. It is proven that receiving regular visitors aids in reducing recidivism rates. Yet, there is very limited proof as to how this relates to prisoners who only get virtual visitation.

If a prison is to implement a videoconferencing only system, 74 percent of said prisons completely ban in-person visits all together, according to a 2015 study done by the Prison Policy Initiative. Videoconferencing seems like a great idea, especially since travel for relatives and friends can be cost prohibitive. However, the cost of videoconferencing appears to be a bit prohibitive, as well – especially for poor call quality.

The system and cost in the crosshairs, come from Securus. The fee of $13 dollars for a 30 minute phone call sounds is high. Fiscally, families could not afford to pay for this new system of visitation and were even further deterred by the subpar video.

With the development of Google Hangouts and Skype, families and inmates have started to question why these services have not been utilized. The quality is impeccable and it is extremely cost efficient, especially for those who cannot afford regular videoconferencing. If it is statistically proven that inmates are less likely to reoffend if they see loved ones, why would federal agencies not want to implement other, more effective forms of cloud communications? 

Despite the poor call quality via Securus, those who were high users of video calling saw a parallel in the rise to number of visits by 49 percent. Maybe it was the glimpse of a loved one propelling a convict to take to the straight and narrow, regardless, it seems the proof is in the results. Imagine if high quality servers were in place?  

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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