Denton, TX — The law offices of Bodkin, Niehaus, & Dickson, PLLC filed a class action lawsuit today against Securus Technologies Holdings, Inc, alleging that the Company’s requirement that the county eliminate in person visitation in favor of a video-only option using solely Securus’ services provides Securus with a monopoly in violation of state and federal law. The intention of the suit is to motivate Denton County to allow various forms of visitation, and perhaps return to previous visitation policies that permitted free, face-to-face visitation.
On January 31, 2015 the Denton County jail became one of thirteen other Texas county jails that now prohibits face-to-face visits and forces all non-professional visits to be conducted for a fee via video technology services by for-profit private corporations. Contractually, Denton County is entitled to 20% of revenue garnered through the use of Securus’ video visitation system.
The suit claims that by terminating face-to-face visitation, the new visitation policy compels use of the Securus video-visitation terminals, and further compels payments for all costs associated with the use of those terminals. Thus, the plaintiffs allege injury suffered as a direct result of the contract between Securus and Denton County.
“The use of anti-competitive contractual tactics by Securus, in an attempt to profit off the backs of inmates and their families, many of whom are indigent and have yet to be convicted of any criminal activity, is unconscionable and cannot be tolerated,” said J. (Jason) Edward Niehaus, lead counsel for Plaintiffs.
This class action joins another petition filed against Securus and Travis County officials in April 2014 alleging that privileged conversations between attorneys and their clients were leaked to Travis County prosecutors using recordings from the Securus service.
Grassroots Leadership, an Austin-based national advocacy organization has been working for over a year to restore face-to-face visitation in Travis County and to convince the Texas legislature to pass laws protecting face-to-face visitation at all county jails. According to Jorge Renaud, principal author of a report co-released by Grassroots Leadership and the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, “The move away from face-to-face visitation is inevitably couched by law enforcement as a benefit to the loved ones of incarcerated individuals, and as a move that will improve jail security. Neither are true; no one has bothered to ask those most affected, and no data exists pointing to safer jails. It's about money, pure and simple.”
J. Edward Niehaus | Partner - Bodkin, Niehaus, & Dickson | 940-600-1295 x 701
Kymberlie Quong Charles | Grassroots Leadership Criminal Justice Programs | 512-499-8111