Incarceration is a traditional area which is not found to be open to changes reflecting the needs of the hour. It has created numerous issues and challenges to the prison officials with some of them are even vulnerable to their life as well. For instance, communication technology saw revolutionary changes in the last two decades. This has even led to inmates collecting contraband phones inside the prison and contacting their criminal gangs outside which are posing threats to prison officials and endangering prison security. I can say the story of Robert Johnson which is a perfect example of how contraband phones are creating problems for prison officials.
He was an incarceration official with responsibilities of confiscating contraband in a South Carolina prison. In 2010, he captured a large pack of contraband which was to be delivered to the members of a criminal gang. The angry gang members contacted their friends outside through contraband phones, and within two weeks, Johnson experienced a deadly gun attack at his home. The investigation showed that how contraband phones are creating one of the biggest threats to prison security. Similar incidents have repeated many times before and after the Johnson incident. This is where he thought to work towards a comprehensive system that addresses the threats of contraband.
With that mission, he started collaborating with Securus Technologies as a paid consultant. The firm developed Wireless Containment Systems to restrict contraband phone calls efficiently. As far as I know, it implements a network over the installed prison and blocks all the unknown numbers whereas it allows calls to friends and family. Johnson even explained the challenges of prison environment to Federal Communications Commission, the telecommunication regulator of the country. Interestingly, Securus already came up with the data of WCS and confirmed that it could block as many as 1.7 million unauthorized calls in just eight prisons the technology implemented.
Since I have decades of experience in following up with prison technology, I can confirm that WCS is a milestone in the prison technology and safety. The technology has proven to be producing efficient results in the live prison environment. By understanding the critical nature of the issue, FCC approved a streamlined process to adopt the technology across the prisons in the country. Interestingly, it would reduce the paperwork and communication between the carriers significantly to make implementation quick and hassle-free.
The changed regulations are adding more demand for the technology from Securus. Even general citizens have started asking the elected officials to intensify the efforts to improve the prison security measures in the recent years. There is a general perception across officials as well as people that WCS is offering the most effective solution in the industry for contraband phones. Securus confirmed that it made a significant investment of $40 million to develop the solution.
When it comes to making a prison more secure, the work usually falls in the laps of the corrections officers. When you are dealing with a prison where the inmate population has exploded to dangerous levels, these inmates think that they are in charge. The violence tends to escalate, and that spills over to innocent officers, guests, staff, and other inmates too. When things reach this tipping point, we as officers and the jail as a whole have to start making use of resources that will give us back the edge as far as safety goes.
To that point, our superiors felt we had to reach out to Securus Technologies for some much needed help. Over the years, we were having trouble listening to the inmates on the jail phones because of our limited staff versus the amount of officers using the phones all day. One advantage to working with Securus Technologies is their call monitoring system is run using their LBS software, and can scan every call by every inmate instantaneously. When anything from contraband to weapons is being discussed, we will get the alert and me and my fellow officers will take instant action.
Securus Technologies works out of Dallas, Texas, and the employees are all committed to the objective of CEO Richard Smith, making this world safer for all. When we were fully up and running, we headed back on the floor and within hours were getting alerts to activities that needed attention. Calls that were detected ranged from inmates talking about using drugs in their cells at night, buying drugs in the yard, to acquiring prescription drugs from family at the guest center. Now if we get any type of alert, we take action instantly and find that we have been able to curb violence in a big way.
Video chat is a part of everyday life. You can log on to a variety of services and call one of your friends right now. Most of the time, it costs nothing. You can video chat so long as you have access to high-speed Internet. You can even video chat somebody all the way across the planet. With all of this in mind, it is high time that inmates and prisoners across this country have access to the same technology.
Inmates in over 178 different prison facilities across this country already have access to this video chat technology. But it is a little shortsighted to call it video chat. The technology, developed by Securus, does a whole lot more than simple telecommunication. The person trying to contact the inmate sets up an account on the Securus website. After logging into the newly created accounts, the user simply requests a video chat time. This request is sent to the prison facility and approved. Once approved, the user then logs back into the account at the appropriate time to start the video visitation. As you can see, this technology is a lot more complicated than a simple Skype session.
The applications of this technology are numerous, especially around the holidays. A stunning 110,000 visits per year happen on a smartphone. This means that more family members are getting mobile with their visitation. You can bring a smartphone into almost any venue, including the family’s living room, a sporting event, a play rehearsal, and anyplace else you can think of. This technology can really help the inmates communicate with their families, making reintegration into society a lot easier. Studies show that inmates who are well connected to their families on the inside of prison are much less likely to commit a crime when released from that prison.
Prison calling with Securus is very simple because of the way that it is set up. I have a lot of people in my group home who are trying to keep in touch with friends and family that they might have left behind in jail. They want to call back there to see how these people are doing, and they are going to help people make sure that they can get through their prison term. Some of these people are coming back to our group home when they get out, and there are many people who are going to feel better because we use Securus.
The people who manage the group home have given all of us the tablets we need with the apps that we use, and they are very easy to use. The application pulls up Securus in seconds, and then we can all talk to the people we need to talk to. I also want to be sure that the people that I have seen go back to jail can get help from me when I am chatting with them every day. It is a lot easier for people to get the help that they need, and it gives them some roots they might not have if family have given up on them.
Someone who wants to be sure that they can get the right kinds of calls through should use Securus. It is very safe, and I am trying to make sure that people who live in our group home will feel as though they are back in touch with something they need. I want them to be happy because that will make their lives better, and someone who is using Securus will see the people that they love very clearly probably for the first time in a long time.