Upselling Prison Pt. 3

JPAY_Appropriating Copyrights_Where Excuses Go to DieA former inmate sizes up detention products, #3 in a casual series.

Upselling Prison: accessories, upgrades, add-ons, telecoms, and salespersons of the detention supply industry.

Prison Monetization Solutions_Where Excuses Go to DieAccording to the Pew Public Safety Performance Project and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 35 adult residents of the US are currently either incarcerated or under correctional supervision (parole or probation). In 1990, that number was 1 in 77. Nationally, America spends billions on corrections, and the money being made by detention profiteers is astronomical. One particularly golden calf has been inmate telecommunications, especially now that the corrections industry is undergoing a “technological renaissance.”
(Prison Voice Biometrics anyone?)

This is a Rehabilitation Measurement Device_Where Excuses Go to DieMuch has been written about the contempt the prison telecom industry routinely demonstrates for families of the incarcerated by charging crushingly inflated rates for collect calls home. Still, in California, for example, the Public Utilities Commission lacks oversight of jail and prison phone contracts and nationwide the FCC is only now taking notice of high rates charged for calls originating in state and federal facilities. According to Prison Phone, inmate phone contracts in all but 9 states are still based on a “commission” model where the service provider pays a portion of its profits to the contracting facility as a kickback for accepting their bid (this chart shows some of the worst offenders). I don’t even want to think about private and corporate-owned detention centers, where the profits extracted from those in need of human contact is obscene. Read more

What Is Herman’s House?

It’s a dream house built by an artist for a man in a cage… 

Courtesy of Herman Wallace and Jackie Sumell's vision_Where Excuses Go to DieIsn’t it just when you find something you want to record that you encounter holes in your cable package? This became an issue for me when I attempted to DVR “Herman’s House,” a documentary airing tonight on the PBS series “POV.”

Turns out AT&T U-verse, my provider, isn’t much of a friend to public television; they don’t actually carry the non-profit public broadcast network, PBS. I find that unfortunate and insulting, since they carry loads of useless crap.

At any rate, Herman Wallace is an imprisoned member of the Angola 3 who has been living his life – 41 years and counting – in solitary confinement. He’s maintained correspondence with artist Jackie Sumell for many years; it’s with her help (and at her urging) that Wallace has conjured his “dream house.” The journey began when Sumell asked Wallace in a letter, “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a six-foot-by-nine-foot box for over 30 years dream of?” Read more