Nothing Assures Us About Securus (January 2014)

In October 2012, Travis County Commissioners Court voted in favor of adding video conferencing services to an already-existing phone service contract with Securus.  At the time the Travis County Sheriff’s Office presented the technology as an ancillary service that would increase the number of ways for people to communicate with their incarcerated loved ones at the Travis County Jail.  However, on May 1st 2013, after Securus video conference technology was installed at the jail, all in-person visitation was eliminated.  Securus video conferencing costs families $20 for twenty minutes of virtual facetime, but bugs in the system and video quality create unjust barriers to meaningful “visits” between incarcerated people and those on the outside.  What’s more, recordings of privileged conversations between attorneys and their clients from the Securus video service have been leaked to local prosecutors.

We call on Sheriff Hamilton and Travis County Commissioners to:

  1. Immediately restore in-person visitation at the Travis County Jail and work with advocates and appropriate entities to make policy change that allows for contact visits in the future.  Prisoners at Travis County Jail should have access to the highest level of visitor contact allowed by law. (1)
  2. Stop eavesdropping on prisoners’ conversations using Securus video conferences or any other communications technologies
  3. Eliminate all commissions from the fees levied for Securus services thereby reducing the fees for families and loved ones; revenue from use of the service should not be used to line corporate pockets.
  4. Address pressing technical problems with the Securus video service that hinder access to communication between prisoners and their loved ones

People accused of a crime deserve the right to private counsel, and families should not carry the weight of an arbitrary tax, simply to line a contractor’s pockets.

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