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FCC Seeks to Implement Below-Cost Inmate Calling Rates, Eliminate Interstate Facility Commissions, and Remove Programs to Provide Inmate Welfare and Victims Assistance Programs; the End Result will be Weaker Prison/Jail Security Controls
Aug 13, 2013 (01:08 PM EDT)
DALLAS, Aug. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Securus Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of inmate communications services, indicated that it would oppose the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposal to dramatically reduce inmate calling rates, eliminate payments to prisons and jails for commissions, and weaken corrections-related security. On Friday, August 9, 2013, the FCC approved, by a 2-1 vote, with a strong dissent from one Commissioner, an Order imposing unprecedented rate regulation on the inmate telecommunications industry, the final version of which is expected to be released in the next thirty days.
"I have been in telecommunications for over 41 years and have been involved in regulation for that entire time – and have never seen the FCC ignore facts and impose a solution that prices services below the cost of providing those services, and in addition, strips prisons and jails of dollars that will eliminate funding for victims assistance, inmate welfare and health programs, and will likely result in weaker security features that help to keep society safe," said Richard A. Smith, Chief Executive Officer and President of Securus Technologies.
"This drive by the FCC to reduce what inmates pay for calling at any cost may lead to deaths of inmates, witnesses, friends/family members of victims, and of officers that protect us as the FCC seeks to eliminate interstate commissions that we presently pay to prisons and jails. I lay that responsibility directly at the feet of the FCC – with this wrongheaded order advancing with only one purpose – to give inmates below-cost calling privileges. We continue to stand with the vast majority of our law enforcement and corrections brothers and sisters and will oppose the proposed order that the FCC discussed in their meeting and in their Press Release."
Commissioner Pai of the FCC expressed his concern for the proposed Order and dissented, but was outvoted by the democrat-appointed Commissioners, Clyburn and Rosenworcel, who approved the contents of the Order.
"In its Press Release, the FCC referred to prices of more than $17.00 for one 15-minute call – that very high, atypical rate is absolutely done to exaggerate the facts. Our average interstate call across all facilities is only $4.00, with higher rates at smaller facilities and lower rates at larger facilities – a far cry from $17.00 per call," said Smith. "I have seen the FCC and inmate advocacy groups continue to quote $30.00, $50.00, and $60.00 calls – all inflated dramatically to get the attention of the FCC and advocacy groups – in an unfair way to carriers like Securus."
"We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our business in customer service and in creating our proprietary inmate calling platform – the best in the industry– and we need the FCC to act in a balanced way and set cost-based rates that include commissions. As we clearly showed the FCC, calling rates include funding for prison programs that help reduce recidivism, provide needed services to innocent victims, while at the same time providing a high level of security controls to prevent inmates from conducting criminal activity while they are incarcerated." The FCC ignored the cost data supplied by Securus and set below-cost rates. These rates will have a chilling effect on competition and may leave smaller correctional facilities without competitive choices. We are disappointed and frustrated by the FCC's discussion and Press Release on the potential Order on Friday, August 9, 2013, and believe that we will defeat it in the Courts.
SOURCE Securus Technologies, Inc.