Prison bankers cash in on captive customers
by Bernadette Rabuy, September 30, 2014
Daniel Wagner and Eleanor Bell of the nonprofit investigative news organization, the Center for Public Integrity, have recently released “Prison bankers cash in on captive customers” and the video Time is Money, part one of a two-part series on the growing web of prison bankers, private vendors, and corrections agencies that profit off the backs of families of the incarcerated.
The Center for Public Integrity’s six-month investigation found plenty of families making necessary sacrifices in order to support and maintain contact with their incarcerated loved one. In order to send money to their incarcerated loved one, family members would sometimes be forced to forego medical care, skip utility bills, and even limit visits with their loved one. Meanwhile, corporations such as JPay, which handles deposits into incarcerated individuals’ accounts, generated well over $50 million in revenue in 2013. Vincent Townsend, president of prison phone company, Pay-Tel Communications, agrees that there’s something wrong with this, telling the Center for Public Integrity, “My industry has abused the public and I’m willing to admit that.” And beyond prison vendors’ profits, there is still the share of profits that gets returned to corrections agencies, often called commissions or kickbacks.
Stay tuned for part two, which will run this Thursday!