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Texas Prison Phone Contract Approved

Texas is the last state in the nation to make pay phones available to prisoners. Mike Ward of the Austin American Statesman wrote about the state's prison policy in a recent article ("First Texas prison pay phone system approved," August 15, 2008). This changed recently, when the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, approved a seven year private phone contract with Embarq/Securus Technologies.

The contract, authorized by the 80th Texas Legislature, reverses the nation's most restrictive prison policy or no phone policy.

In recent years, only occasional collect calls from state phones have been allowed — usually from wardens' offices as a reward for good behavior.

Texas stands to generate several hundred million in revenue as a result of the change in policy, and the ability of prisoners to phone families and friends as a result.

Over its seven-year run, the contract could generate as much as $600 million in gross revenue, officials estimated.

Embarq officials said they plan to install about 4,000 pay phones in Texas' 106 prisons, each of which will require a voice ID and personal ID number to ensure that only authorized convicts make calls.

The new contract also refreshes former State Rep. Ray Allen relationship with the House Corrections Committee. Allen who chaired the committee several years ago now serves as an Embarq consultant, and no doubt is relying on his relationships as a former lawmaker to benefit Embarq's bottom line.

Advocates strongly supported the change in phone policy during the 2007 Legislature, citing that better telephone access would improve public safety, maintain family unity, and impact rehabilitation for prisoners. Advocacy groups in support of the measure included the:

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Texas
  • Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable
  • Christian Life Commission Baptist General Convention of TX
  • Restorative Justice Ministries Network of Texas
  • Texas CURE
Other states that have had better prison phone policies are working to lower costs so that telephone access is not a hardship on families. As Texas officials work to implement the new phone policy, it will be important that advocacy groups monitor the contracts and hold officials accountable to the costs incurred by prisoners' families.
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Comments

As a family member who has suffered from the total lack of caring from the Texas Criminal Justice system. I find it hard to believe that it has suddenly changed its stance on how inmates and families should stop being financially abused. If the system as it is reported stands first to gain millions from the installation of pay phones, who will still be paying for the call? Of course the families through the money put on the inmates books for any and all necessary items TDCJ has deemed allowable for the inmate. I would like to ask Embarg and former state Representative Ray Allen this question. "Who stands to win if Ray Allen is going to use his past relationship with the House Corrections Committee along with his conflicted relationship with Embarq to assist families in their financial burdens in the new TDCJ phone system? Since Ray Allen has had a past relationship with the House of Corrections Committee and his past relations obviously served as someone who didn't care about the family and inmate financial burdens. Who will win? To me that is a no brainer: Embarque (Mr. Ray Allen/ The State with millions of new revenue/ not the families or inmates).

how do i set up phone calls for my son at dominguez?  he was just transfered OCT.1,2009

I need phone approval for my land line, because it's not with At&T or Verizon, my son is unable to call home. I have already sent a copy of my phone bill and drivers license to Family and Friends, what else do you need? My number is 469-214-0127 with Skybeam located in Midlothian TX 76065.

Thank you.

 

my name is joshua newton i need my son to be able to call home. he is in colorado city, tx. dick ware unit i need approval for mo land line phone.what do i need to do my phone number is-214-309-3977 dallas,tx 75217 

Hi all --

I am sorry to only be responding to these posts now. I know it mus be hard to try to want to communicate with your loved ones and run into beauracratic hurdles.  We are in the process of looking into these poslicies and procedures and when we learn of new information we will post to the blog.  In the meantime I recommend complying with the prison's policies -- what ever they may be.  Also, the TDCJ ombudsman may be able to answer questions.  That office can be reached at 936-437-8035.

Best,

 

Nicole

 How, do i go about, finding out which phone carrier is allowed, where my boyfriend is an enmate?

I was refered to whitefence.com to find a local phone in San Antonio. I am currently with Sage Communications but they charge and extra $20 in fees and taxes...I will be switchin to Time Warner who also provides service. Call EMBARQ/CENTRY LINK/ SECURUS/ Or JPAY to get info

I was wondering if anyone might know about inmates at saf-p Johnston unit having to go to a halfway house when released? My husband has been in the Johnston unit in Winnsboro,Texas for 4 months now. I cant wait for him to be able to come home. He dosen't get released until March 14, 2013. I've been worried he will have to go to halfway house from the unit he's in now instead of coming home. If anyone knows anything about this, could you please let me know. THANKS, SHERRI