I believe that we should all be mindful of this hidden economy that exists within our criminal justice system. You probably don’t put too much thought into our prisons and jails, but these facilities require all sorts of services that are provided by third-party companies. These third-party companies become the exclusive provider of jail phone services through government contracts. As it turns out with the telecommunications and the things, these contracts can be quite lucrative. But we should be very careful and we should regulate these companies so that abuse does not occur.
IC Solutions, and inmate telecommunications company, is taking advantage of its position of power within the state of Alabama. IC Solution is really a fourth-party private company because they are contracted out by Century Link which holds the exclusive government contract to be the sole provider of telecommunications to all 28 prisons and jails inside of Alabama.
Century Link is responsible for paying the state of Alabama $.57 per day per inmate in the state. This adds up to more than $5 million per year. In order to recuperate that cost, Century Link and IC Solutions Charge inmates and their families a ridiculously high rate per call. In fact, one Alabama woman claims that she spends more than $100 per month talking to her son. This is at least double the average monthly rate for a cell phone.
These rates have become so sky high that the state of Alabama and the federal government have moved into regulate. Unfortunately, this does not stop Century Link or IC Solutions from abusing their positions of power. The companies simply sidestep the protocol price regulation by adding hidden fees, such as a fee to put money into an inmate’s account. These regulations need to become more comprehensive to stop IC Solutions from more abuse.