One of the most popular technologies that have been unveiled in the last decade within the nation’s prison system has been video visitation offered by Securus Technologies. This technology has proven to be enormously popular with both inmates and guards, allowing inmates to stay in nearly constant face-to-face communication with their loved ones on the outside of prison while also allowing guards to maintain a much safer and more predictable prison environment.
But the happiest customers of Securus’ video visitation system may be the prison administrators. Because of the enormous popularity of the system, revenues have climbed substantially over the last few years from calling services for the nation’s prisons. Oftentimes, the prison themselves collect commissions of up to 90 percent of all money spent by inmates on outgoing communications. This has provided a crucial source of revenue for many of the nation’s cash-strapped prisons, allowing them to maintain their facilities well staffed and ensure that they have enough beds to house the influx of new criminals.
This has been particularly useful in California, where prisons are often stressed to the maximum. Many of the states’ prisons have been operating at far more than capacity for decades. The new cash provided by revenues from the video visitation system have allowed many of California’s prisons to reduce numbers of inmates being housed in dangerous open-air sleeping quarters. This has allowed those prisons to vastly increase their safety record, with fewer inmate behavioral violations and fewer violent crimes being committed within institutional walls.
In other states, such as Louisiana, the revenues provided by video visitation alone provide significant sources of the total budget of some of the state’s prison. There, despite the fact that Securus has been able to keep the average cost of an outgoing phone call down to just $0.15 per minute, many of the states prisons have come to rely the revenues received from video visitation calls.