The inmate communications industry has been designed to serve correctional facilities by allowing inmates to communicate with their legal counsel, family, and friends while incarcerated. Prisons are offering telephone services, electronic messages and video messaging. Though the inmate communication industry has been evolving over the years in regards to improvement of service delivery, owing to digital transition, there have still been challenges that need to be addressed.
Correctional facilities outsource telephone services to private companies. Because of the monopoly in the market, these private firms charge high calling rates compared to typical phone rates by other citizens. Families to people incarcerated have felt the pinch by digging deeper into their pockets to communicate with their loved ones. In the U.S, the overseeing body, The Federal Communications Commission implemented caps on calling rates to regulate these firms and protect the end user. Interstate call rates charge not more than $0.21 and $0.25per minute for interstate prepaid and collect calling. This was on August 9th 2013.
Another challenge facing this industry is the tracking of inmates’ conversations and activities to curb further crimes. Inmates are usually given Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) that the staffs use to track conversations. There are cases where inmates share these PIN numbers leading to inaccurately tracking the real caller. The communications companies have to come up with effective systems to reduce such cases. The use of voice biometrics will go a long way to bring safety and efficiency in prisons. When a voice print is linked to a specific PIN, then there will no longer be sharing of these PIN.
Conversations between legal counsel and inmates are considered privileged and are constitutionally protected. Breach of such laws is illegal, and inmate communication providers must provide quality services to ensure privileged conversations are kept private.