Global Tel-Link is a communications company that provides calling services for correctional institutions. The company last sold in 2011 for one billion dollars and controls fifty percent of the market for jail and prison phone calls. Unfortunately, for the average person (the ones not inside the institution walls) having someone you love behind bars, ends up being punishment for the innocent.
GTL is not only capitalizing on the innocent but is preying on a very vulnerable and delicate situation. Having been an acquaintance of an incarcerated person, I can speak to this victimization first hand. The cost of each phone call to my loved one was approximately $5.00, give or take. With processing fees taken out, this figure sank even lower. Sadly, even this small number eventually dwindled to a mere dollar or two, which is just enough for three to five minutes. All told, I spent well over $1000.00 in a six-month period, just to keep in contact with someone I love. To put that in perspective, my cell phone bill for the corresponding time totaled $240.00.
I am in college, living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford the outrageous fees that GTL charges. As a result, my ability to communicate with my loved one was severely limited. Not only is this disheartening for both parties, it creates a victim out of an innocent person. Should friends and relatives of the incarcerated be financially punished, just for knowing the person? While we live in a capitalist society, and this is truly capitalization of the highest degree, morality needs to be taken into consideration. After all, isn’t that what got us here in the first place?
While it may be a smart business move for GTL to capitalize on this much-needed service, it is at the expense of those who don’t deserve this kind of punishment. Keeping in contact with those we love is an essential part of rehabilitation. It helps us maintain family ties, and allows us to cope with a stressful and difficult situation. Incarceration has the power to rip families and friends apart. Adding insult to injury, Global Tel-Link seeks to capitalize on our misfortune.