Today in Prisoner Monetization
August 8, 2018 12:16 PM   Subscribe

this is the same system that prisoners in idaho gamed to give themselves 250k in free credits and i support them 100%
posted by poffin boffin at 12:27 PM on August 8, 2018 [27 favorites]

What a bunch of unbelievably awful ghouls.

Also, shout out to the work of Black and Pink and the Prisoner Correspondence Project, both of whom run amazing penpal programs for LGBTQ2S folks in prison. Other mefites may know about other penpal programs or other ways to support incarcerated folks, but I can vouch for those two organizations.
posted by ITheCosmos at 12:33 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

At least New York is about to pass a law making prison phone calls free. Anything that we can do to end the exploitation and extortion of people in jail is for the better. The goal of prison should be reform, not simply punishment.
posted by SansPoint at 12:57 PM on August 8, 2018 [32 favorites]

America's prisons are endless layers of immorality.
posted by crush at 1:04 PM on August 8, 2018 [19 favorites]

The goal of prison should be reform, not simply punishment.

The most odious part of this (for me, at least) is that even if you accept that prison should be about punishment, it's not punishing the prisoners to do things this way. If you wanted to do that, you'd just not let them communicate with their families and friends at all. The only ideology involved here is profiteering.
posted by Etrigan at 1:20 PM on August 8, 2018 [17 favorites]

Obviously, the way to solve this is to use the invisible hand of the free market, and give the prisoners prison-choice vouchers, so the various prisons can compete for prisoners and get their funding that way.
posted by fings at 1:27 PM on August 8, 2018 [33 favorites]

I've never been prouder of the NYC libraries than when I heard of Video Visitation outreach. My understanding is that it's very expensive otherwise.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:29 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

My brother was in jail when I was living in the middle east. It cost us 15 bucks to video chat for 30 minutes using the jails system. A collosal rip off. Prisoners get screwed in all kinds of ways, so do the people that care about them.
posted by PHINC at 1:29 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

what is prison like in Norway?
posted by robbyrobs at 1:32 PM on August 8, 2018

Obviously, the way to solve this is to use the invisible hand of the free market, and give the prisoners prison-choice vouchers

What if we eliminated the school-to-prison pipeline entirely, by simply building the school inside of the prison to start with?
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:32 PM on August 8, 2018 [5 favorites]

Strange Interlude: Or, do what they did on The Simpsons and build the prisons into the schools.
posted by SansPoint at 1:39 PM on August 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

But if we stop criminalizing poverty, and race, and lack of education, how will investors make healthy profits?
posted by nikoniko at 1:44 PM on August 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

What if we eliminated the school-to-prison pipeline entirely, by simply building the school inside of the prison to start with?

Oh don't worry, they already do.
posted by jeather at 1:48 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

JPay’s parent company Securus

And the shoe fucking dropped.

I work in Accounts Payable for the MA public defender's system, and this company is downright evil. It's not just the rates that are exorbitant, but they seem to delight in creating reasons to shut down accounts. They accept only paper checks, rather than payment via EFT. A late payment results in a shut-down instead of a late fee.

Even when you explain to them that they're actively losing money because we're a state agency and they might earn $300/day from the collect calls throughout the state that prisoners make to our offices? Nah, payment's late.

We've also had to threaten litigation against them because they were clearly monitoring calls between clients and lawyers despite there already being an order to not do so. "Oh, there must have been a glitch in our system!"

Fuck you, Securus.
posted by explosion at 1:49 PM on August 8, 2018 [22 favorites]

Also starring Geo Group [autoplay video], which Dream Defenders is currently protesting.

This stuff is just disgusting.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 2:04 PM on August 8, 2018

"Fuck you and your 13th Amendment! We'll take our slave labor and we'll like it!"
posted by East14thTaco at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have an account on Jpay due to an acquaintance I keep in touch with who is currently incarcerated. 25 cents to send an email, 25 cents for each attached photo, and 25 cents so the recipient can reply without spending their own funds. Monetarily, it means nothing to me, but it pisses me off all the same.
posted by COD at 2:15 PM on August 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

I often think the people going off on the prison-industrial complex are focusing on the wrong thing. Prison labor for private companies is actually relatively small-scale and sporadic. Further, it's generally something prisoners compete to get, rather than the specific dramatic "slavery" people have in mind. That doesn't mean it's not exploitative, mind you--it is!--but the real large-scale exploitation, the widespread aggravation of misery, comes from practices like this, which affect every single prisoner in many places. See, e.g., another article from Wired on video-chat price-gouging. Some jurisdictions are trying to replace "free" visits entirely with these for-pay communications.
posted by praemunire at 2:37 PM on August 8, 2018 [4 favorites]

This should be illegal, and in a just universe, the people responsible would be tried and punished.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:15 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fun facts about the Virginia Carceral State: many jails are video visitation only. Your friends and family still have to come to the jail, and pass a background check just to video chat you. Some jails charge inmates up to $3 a day to be in jail and will take that money out of any money your family send you for food or to use the phone. In VA prison, you cannot be in the visitation list of more than one prisoner - if your son and mother are both locked up, you can only visit one of them, not one a time, not one this week and one next week, just one. Virginia still has a system of prison farms, many are built on former slave plantation land, surrounded by (private) cotton fields. Inmates are forced to pick watermelons for $.35 an hour in 95+ degree heat. There’s one portapotty dor 100+ inmates, and there’s no soap. The watermelons (and other produce - cantaloupe, lettuce, collards, broccoli, etc...) are sold to distributor who stock supermarkets across the mid Atlantic. Only 5 photos are allowed per envelope, if somebody sends you more than 5, they all get thrown away. Sending 5 envelopes with 5 flicks each, that’s fine. 20 minute In state, long distance phone call: $5 out of state long distance call: $15. Average weekly inmate pay $12ish dollars. Price of a single ramen noodle package $.50 (up to $1 in jail). Number of toilets for an 80 man dorm - 3. Minimum amount of sentence that you’ll serve: 87%. Total hours of GED instruction per week: 2. Number of programs available that offer any real world skills or certifications other than GED: 0 (in minimum security)
posted by youthenrage at 8:08 PM on August 8, 2018 [14 favorites]

Someone I knew was recently in jail for a bunch of unpaid tickets that had become bench warrants. She also had the misfortune to be in a squat that got raided Fourth of July weekend, so she was in for about a week until courts reopened and the judge basically just turned her tickets back into fines.

She tried to call me from jail twice. The first time I didn't recognize the number and got a voicemail recording that someone wanted to reach me from jail and I could pay by credit card. Of course there's no way to call back or even know who the inmate is, so I had to search the jail roster for people I know who could have been in jail.

The second time the button to pay by credit card didn't work. I pressed it about eight times and nothing happened. I called the jail and they told me that option doesn't actually work. You need a prepaid account. There was no information about how much calls cost so I put like $20 on my account to be safe. She never got a chance to call me before she got released, so that money is probably just lost.
posted by smelendez at 1:54 AM on August 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

What always gets under my craw (is that a metaphor) about prisons charging for communication is that - yo, here's some people on the outside telling the prisoner exactly what they're missing out on. I work a job where I'm chained to my laptop for long periods, and reminders of what the outside world is up to, what friends are seeing, who's playing that I can't see, are torture. Scrolling through instagram is torment. If you wanted to punish prisoners, why not let them see exactly what their sentence is costing them? If you want to encourage reform, why not show them exactly what they gain if they behave well and finish their sentence on time? What could be a better enticement to not commit crimes again than a live feed of the real world? "This is what your behavior cost you." "This is what you're missing out on." "This is why you don't do it again."

That's why I know they're profiteering assholes whose fortunes are built on human misery. Fuck 'em.
posted by saysthis at 5:47 AM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

This week I learned that inmates in California's correctional system have to pay a $5 copay whenever they want to see a doctor.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:42 AM on August 9, 2018

If only ex-prisoners were a dependable voting block.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Michigan inmate who was the subject of this recent post also wrote about learning to use a JPay tablet.
posted by riruro at 10:07 AM on August 9, 2018

« Older "She was surprisingly clever for a mammal"   |   Canary Girls of World War One Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments