Not So Securus

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Massive Hack of 70 Million Prisoner Phone Calls Indicates Violations of Attorney-Client Privilege

“This may be the most massive breach of the attorney-client privilege in modern U.S. history, and that’s certainly something to be concerned about,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “A lot of prisoner rights are limited because of their conviction and incarceration, but their protection by the attorney-client privilege is not.”

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Prison Bankers Cash in on Captive Customers

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“I would send him money even if it broke me, because I do go without paying some bills sometimes to go see him,” Pat says.

Between gas to make the trip and overpriced sandwiches from the prison vending machine, visiting Bland costs about $50, a strain on her housekeeper’s wages. So she alternates, visiting Eddie one week and sending him money the next.

To get cash to her son, Pat used to purchase a money order at the post office for $1.25 and mail it to the prison, for a total cost of less than $2. But in March of last year, the Virginia Department of Corrections informed her that JPay Inc., a private company in Florida, would begin handling all deposits into inmates’ accounts.

Sending a money order through JPay takes too long, so Taylor started using her debit card to get him funds instead. To send Eddie $50, Taylor must pay $6.95 to JPay. Depending on how much she can afford to send, the fee can be as high as 35 percent. In other states, JPay’s fees approach 45 percent.

After the fee, the state takes out another 15 percent of her money for court fees and a mandatory savings account, which Eddie will receive upon his release in 2021, minus the interest, which goes to the Department of Corrections.

Eddie needs money to pay for basic needs like toothpaste, visits to the doctor and winter clothes. In some states families of inmates pay for toilet paper, electricity, even room and board, as governments increasingly shift the costs of imprisonment from taxpayers to the families of inmates.

“To give him $50, I have to send $70 off my card,” says Taylor, who moved to a smaller apartment on the outskirts of Johnson City in part because of the rising cost of supporting Eddie.

“They’re punishing the families, not the inmates.”

Prison-Industrial Complex Unravels in Mississippi

“On Thursday, Chris Epps, who abruptly resigned as the $132,000-a-year Corrections Commissioner a day before, pleaded not guilty to an indictment that he received more than $700,000 in bribes that helped him pay off his $360,000 home and beach condo.

[…]

Corruption has included gangs extorting the families of inmates. Gang members have also paid correctional officers to not only smuggle in drugs and other contraband, but also to do favors for gangs, including allegedly “popping” locks to enable assaults and killings.”

NYT: Chief Quits as Mississippi Prisons Face Inquiry

A federal lawsuit filed in 2013 by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union charged that at one state prison, the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, mentally ill prisoners were “locked down in filthy cells for days, weeks or even years.”

“Setting fires is often the only way to get medical attention in emergencies,” said the lawsuit, which is pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The prison, which houses about 1,400 inmates, is managed through a contract with the state by the Utah-based Management Training Corporation.

In 2012, a federal judge approved an agreement between the Justice Department and the state to implement an overhaul at another state jail, the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, where it was discovered that staff members had coerced inmates to have sex in exchange for food.