Posted on August 24 2019
As a follow up to a recent entry concerning last week’s Order where Judge Robinson found the entire Kansas AUSA Office in Contempt - I decided to pull on a two threads - that ran throughout the 188 page FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW in No:Case No. 16-20032-02-JAR. I should warn you this is an exceedingly long write up and I make minimal apologies for it. As with standard practice I’ve embedded numerous links to various reports, FCC filings, contract awards, lobbying efforts and yes of course numerous lawsuits.
The threads that I decided to pull on Securus Technologies and CoreCivic. In order to properly understand just how onerous Securus Technologies pricing structure is, I highly recommend you read this February 2019 Prison Policy Initiative Report. It offers a damning indictment of Securus’ business practices and the ongoing fleecing of their rate per minute.
These high rates and fees can be disastrous for people incarcerated in local jails. Local jails are very different from state prisons: On a given day, 3 out of 4 people held in jails under local authority have not even been convicted, much less sentenced. The vast majority are being held pretrial, and many will remain behind bars unless they can make bail. Charging pretrial defendants high prices for phone calls punishes people who are legally innocent, drives up costs for their appointed counsel, and makes it harder for them to contact family members and others who might help them post bail or build their defense. It also puts them at risk of losing their jobs, housing, and custody of their children while they are in jail awaiting trial.
Simply put Prison Telecommunications Companies like Securus Technologies appears to be engaging in actual “fleecing” and it can disproportionately impact those of lesser socioeconomic demographics. Meaning when you factor in the cost prohibitive nature of a five minute prison phone call there’s also a separate impact. That impact is emotional and can dramatically cause damage not only to the prisoner but to the prisoner’s family.
As the Prison Policy Initiative astutely notes, their research proved that cost of phone calls can be extraordinarily pricey. I’d argue that this is more of an actual racket to maximize profits at any and all cost. You can find the interactive chart, here and here.
On average, phone calls from jail cost over three times more than phone calls from state prisons. Nationally, the average cost of a 15-minute call from jail is $5.74. This table and the map below show just how much more local jails are charging in each state than state prisons for the same 15 minute in-state phone call:
The fact is landlines can be expensive. They require the LEC (local Exchange Carrier) and sometimes an ILEC (incumbent local exchange carrier) to install the “last mile”. Moreover based on a regulatory standpoint there tend to be local “franchising fees”, these are sometimes referred as “kick backs” it’s a fee levied by State & Local. I can tell you there’s a lot of revenue that local governments generate from a franchise fee. In addition there are other federal fees and taxes (e-rate, universal access fee). When a prisoner makes a landline call, that call is routed to and through various rate & wire centers in order to reach the destination (receiving telephone number). Prison landlines also require additional hardware and software to record the Prison calls. Which is also factored in to the cost per minute.
In recent years Prison Telecommunications companies have heavily investing in VoIP technology. It is faster and cheaper for these companies. Generally speaking VoIP Services can greatly increase their profits while minimizing their installation time. The problem is there’s very little regulation -specifically encryption of said VoIP calls. One trend you should know is Prison Telecommunications Companies are also executing multi-year and multi-Telecommunications service contracts. (see additional details under the FCC and VoIP subsection below)
Securus Technologies, Inc
Securus Technologies is a Dallas Based Prison Telecommunications Company. What you might overlook is the Prison Telecom industry is incredibly lucrative business unit for the very few “for profit” telecommunications providers. The industry estimate puts this service at >$1.2+ Billion per year industry, according to this NYTs 2015 article.
At last estimates there are three primary telecommunications companies that hold >90% of the Prison telecommunications base, Securus, GTL and CenturyLink. Meaning when the FCC and DOJ “condone” mega mergers - one would think that would run counter to Anti-Trust statues. Give. That Securus is the leading provider for telecommunications services within our Federal, State and Local Prisons and Jails. Their now failed merger with IC Solutions would have made Securus a Prison telecom giant. I rarely, ever agree with FCC Chairman Pai - considering he previously served Securus General Counsel. On April 2, 2019, FCC Chairman Pai’s Press Release, he stated the following:
“FCC staff concluded that this deal posed significant competitive concerns and would not be in the public interest” —FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
On April 3, 2019 Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division issued the following press release, which reads in part:
Securus and ICS have a history of competing aggressively to win state and local contracts by offering better financial terms, lower calling rates, and more innovative technology and services. This merger would have eliminated that competition, plain and simple...The companies’ decision to abandon this deal is the right outcome – correctional facilities, inmates and their friends and families will continue to benefit from the robust competition between these firms.”
Securus Richard A. Smith Foundation
In late 2017 Securus Announced (See July 13, 2017 Business Wire Release) the official launch of Securus Richard A Smith Foundation. I should note that the foundation’s core mission is to address the recidivism rate. That’s a noble endeavor and they should be lauded for their willingness to do their part in lower our recidivism rate. The sad reality is America has one of the highest recidivism among the developed world. We do very little to address the needs of prisoners and we should do more in terms of “re-entry”.
“The Securus Foundation will overcome with a comprehensive approach to place relevant needs with the right participants. In addition, the foundation’s reach will go beyond the prison walls and out into the community to be inclusive of all, even if they will not participate in programming pre-release,”
We exist to improve the lives of returning citizens and their families.
The Securus Foundation is a not for profit, as such you can read their January 30, 2018 IRS Determination Letter. I suppose of all the law firms in the DMV (DC, MD, VA) area Securus Foundation selection of McDermott, Will & Emery isn’t a surprise, but it does seem like an odd choice given the plethora of excellent Dallas-Ft Worth law firms. For now it might be worthwhile keeping an eye on this Foundation and track the monies in/out but as of right now I have yet to come across anything that would give me pause...beyond the law firm they hired to represent the,.
Although their MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY LLP PAC FEC ID C00299701 briefly caught my attention. Largely in part when diving in to their year over year funds raised. But then again in DC you need financial skin in the game because clearly money talks.
2015/2016 Election Cycle, raised $1,000.00
2017/2018 Election Cycle, raised $60,300.00
2019/2020 Election Cycle, thus far raised $50,700.00
But if I’m going to be fair, they are quasi-bipartisan, as it relates to clients and campaigns hiring them for campaign centric legal services. Granted Trump appears to have only paid them $250K during the 2017/2018 election cycle.
Securus Technologies, Inc. Lobbying
As with my standard practice when I decide to research a target, I tend to pull data from as many public databases as possible. Because when you see a sizable uptick in both Campaign Donations and Lobbying that means you should also take a hard look at what Legislatively and Regulatory areas that tend to be the catalyst for literally turning on the money spigot at near full blast.
Full disclosure in the DMV (DC, MD, VA) law firms tend to be multidiscipline - where the medium to larger firms (threshold hold is >100 attorneys) tend to have business units that focus on lobbying. I should add that lobbying isn’t illegal. The unfortunate reality is lawmakers are far more willing to set up a “confirmed” meeting with a Business or a firm representing aforementioned business interest than meeting with actual constituents. Which should offend you because special interest groups have very deep pockets. Should you be inclined to either double check my research or run a few searches of your own, you should know there are two Congressional databases, I’ve embedded the links below:
I took the liberty of running Securus Technology, Inc’s Senate Lobbying Report, found here. You wil note that their first LDA filing occurred on May 14, 2007 in terms of Return on Investment because that’s the open dirty secret of DC and K Street, Securus spent a modest amount on lobbying for almost a decade. Never actually “pouring” money into their lobbying efforts, particularly when compared to their completion. You’ll note that Securus’ lobbying efforts skyrocketed. In 2018 Securus hired TeleMedia Policy Corp, Securus Technologies (See 2018 & 2019 entries cumulative $240,000.00 for those two years), Crossroads Strategies, LLC (See February 2019 retroactive registration).
When you examine the 2018 and 2019 lobbying submissions, Securus spent $520,000.00 in their lobbying endeavors which is approximately 490% than 2016 they 2006 combined.
Granted the the vacuum of DC lobbying pool $520K doesn’t seem like a lot. But then you might want to review what “legislation” Securus “invested” in - S. 2520, I found Section 2 of this Senate Bill interesting, it reads in part:
1) Prison, jails, and detention centers in theUnited States have unique telecommunications needs due to safety and security concerns.
(2) Unjust and unreasonable charges negatively impact the safety and security of communities in the United States by exacerbating recidivism by damaging relationships between inmates and their support systems.
3) It is the policy of the United States to en- sure that all people in the United States, including anyone who pays for communications with inmates via telephone and advanced communications, are afforded just and reasonable charges for all communication services.
(4) The current inmate communications market suffers from market failure. Among other issues, consumers cannot choose among competing pro- viders, which produces locational monopolies and monopoly profits at the expense of rate-payers.
As you can see S.2520 essentially stalled out in the 115th Congress and it appears to be tabled for the 116th Congress. Again it’s not unusual for an Industry leader to lobby for/against specific legislation - that’s how the DC sausage is made, below are the following five entities who lobbied specifically for/against S.2520
Securus Technologies LD2 Reports - there are a total of three LDA reports filed specifically for S2520. For a cumulative total of $140,000.00 specifically concerning S2520, it is difficult to ascertain if this lobbying effort was for or against this legislation. For your benefit I’ve taken the liberty of embedded the various lobbying. Reports below:
Legislative and regulatory matters relating to inmate telecommunications services and law enforcement use of location-based services / S. 2520 - Inmate Calling Technical Corrections Act of 2018
Q3 2018 TeleMedia Policy Corp. (on behalf of Securus) $40,000.00 and directly lobbied the House, Senate and FCC:
Legislative & regulatory matters relating to inmate telecommunications services and law enforcement use of location-based services / S. 2520 - Inmate Calling Technical Corrections Act of 2018
Q4 2018 TeleMedia Policy Corp: (on behalf of Securus) $60,000.00 for S2520.
Other entities that lobbied re S2520
Verizon Communications Inc. and various subsidiaries - LD-2 Report - April 2018 $2.8M spent by Verizon et al for Q1 of 2018. Granted this is not that unusual given Verizon is a telecommunications giant. See Section 16 of the LDA Report, you’ll note the various legislation they lobbied for/against. But it’s difficult to determine the aggregate amount Verizon spent on S2520 because the Report isn’t itemized per legislation.
American Civil Liberties Union -LD-2 Report - Q4 2018 Report shows $380,000.00 in lobbying but again the ACLU does an enormous amount of advocacy work, especially for the most vulnerable among us. Naturally it would make sense for the ACLU to advocate for those society tends to ignore.
NAACP LD-2 Report - October 2018, Keep in mind the $70K in lobbying wasn’t secular to S.2520 - the NAACP lobbied for/against numerous issues facing their membership. Specifically Austerity-Social Welfare Programs, Fair Housing, Community Reinvestment Act, predatory loan practices, Byrne JAG grants - just to name a few.
FREE PRESS ACTION FUND LD2 Report - $40,000.00 spent lobbying on the following legislative items: “HJ Res 129 / SJ Res 5: Congressional efforts to reinstate Net Neutrality rules and FCC broadband authority via CRA, to restore a free and open Internet that safeguards consumer rights and spurs investment and innovation. MFCC Net Neutrality proceeding and appeal, specifically regarding FCC failure to account for comments in record. S 2520 Inmate Calling Technical Corrections Act: Clarify the FCC's authority to address high prison phone calls rates, to help families keep in touch with incarcerated family members, reduce recidivism rates and thereby save taxpayer dollars.”
Notwithstanding, you should know that Crossroads StrategiesLLC, Q1 2019 and Crossroads Strategy, LLC Q2 - 2019 on behalf of Securus Technologies spent $50,000.00 x2 lobbying. In addition to (self lobbying) Securus LD2 Report - Q2 2019 and TeleMedia Policy Corp $60,000.00 in Q1 2019 and TeleMedia Policy Corp $60,000.00 in Q2- 2019
*what you should know is Securus is betting big on their investment of cellphone jamming technology. In the context of their growing service portfolio, specifically telecommunications and technology, the more “services” added to a contract the harder it is for a “customer” to terminate the relationship. This is a known Industry business model.
FCC and Prisoner Calls
Naturally you would expect the FCC to step-in and actually enforce statutes under their regulatory authority. Yet with the all too common SOP, under the current administration, Trump appointed the Fox in the hen house as such Securus has a “friend” in FCC Chairman Pai. As previously reported in August of 2017 a prisoner advocacy group Human Rights Defense Center submitted the following 65 page letter highlighting the obvious “conflict of interest” - calling for Pai to recuse himself. Unsurprisingly of course Chairman Pai did not recuse. So it seems like a good time to remind you how chummy Pai is with The Daily Caller - which later lead to the FCC Investigation of the production and communications about his appearance in the video - to wit the FCC OIG literally said - nope nothing to see here, move along.
FCC Releases Order Reducing High Inmate Calling Rates - FCC 13-113 - the purposes of this action was to lower cost for prisoners phone calls. At the time Securus strenuously objected to the FCC’s action regarding ConsCallHome which strictly utilized the VoIP technology.
The call routing services are not initiated by the calling party, as in the case of “operator services,” but rather are subscribed to by the party being called. The calling party does not have to engage any automatic or live assistance in order to complete the call: indeed, for the calling party, the routed call is completed in a seamless manner.
In the 2013 FCC Press Release concerning ConsCallHome - the FCC specifically singled out Securus and their onerous and punitive actions against ConsCallHome:
Inmate calling service provider Securus Technologies blocked ConsCallHome, arguing that Commission precedent permitted such blocking, and sought a ruling from the FCC on the issue. The Bureau found that the Commission precedent cited by Securus was not applicable in this context.
To fully understand how pernicious Securus’s 2013 action against ConsCallHome, less than three years later Securus triumphed in their “$30+Million in its investment of VoIP technology. See their 2016 Press Release via PR NewsWire, found here and reads in part:
“The key to achieving a low cost structure in telecommunications is taking advantage of massive economies of scale – that means large platforms, redundancy of data centers, cloud computing and storage, using the internet (internet telephony) to the maximum extent possible, efficient computer languages, and management of troubles remotely through a Network Operations Center (NOC). We use all of these proven high-tech methods to allow inmates to maintain their relationships via audio and video calling," said Smith.
FCC October 2017 Securus et al Transfer approves:
DA/FCC #: FCC-17-141
Joint Application of Securus Investment Holdings, LLC, Securus Technologies, Inc, T-NETIX, Inc., T-NETIX Telecommunications Services, Inc. and SCRS Acquisition Corporation for Grant of Authority to Transfer Indirect Ownership and Control of Licensees
FCC October 2017 Securus:
Securus Agrees to Pay $1.7 Million Civil Penalty which in a dollars and cents standpoint repressed; “0.1% of the value of the transaction; 0.39% of the company’s 2015 revenues; and 0.12% of the kickbacks Securus paid to correctional facilities from 2004-2014.”
FCC announced it has reached a $1.7 million consent decree with Securus resolving an investigation into whether Securus provided inaccurate and misleading information to the FCC regarding the company's transfer of control to Platinum Equity
The lack of candor and gross misrepresentation can not be overstated, so much so that Chairman Pia issued the following statement. At the time he was lauded for being so “strong”, but remember these are just words, so many words, his statement reads in part:
A lack of candor with the Commission is a very serious matter, and there must be a strong deterrent to such misconduct.
So as we approve this transaction from which we find no competitive harms, we also have a consent decree with Securus that both punishes its untruthfulness and serves as a strong deterrent to others who would mislead the agency.
I believe the purpose of this misrepresentation was to speed the approval of this transaction. But it ended up having the opposite effect. Those doing business in front of the agency should take note of that fact. They should also note that while Applicants urged quick approval to avoid incurring fees, in the companion decree Securus will pay a civil penalty of $1.7 million because of their lack of candor, a particularly large amount for this type of violation.
Although I’m partial to Commissioner Clyburn’s Statement and Commissioner Rosenworcel Statement. Neither of them held anything back. The point is Securus’ $1.7M fine was literally a drop in a vast ocean of huge profits. The current FCC Chairman knew about the decades long “kick back scheme” - remember he was Securus General Counsel.
When it comes to the plight of prisoners and their families paying usurious rates for phone service, the current leadership of the Commission has not made a single move to help. Instead, we’ve seen a string of half-hearted words that add up to a refusal by the Commission to do its job under the law. This Commission is failing in its duty to protect prisoners and their families from usurious phone rates.
Fleecing of inmates and families, who are forced to pay outrageous cost for telecommunications services. It has been decades and still the FCC has taken relatively minimal steps to properly regulate the highly lucrative Prison Telecommunications industry. But if you take Securus’ word via their own Rate Fact Sheet - you’d believe that their “pricing” is in line with the industry. The reality is “the industry” has profited off the backs of inmates family and loved ones who are forced to pay these unconscionably high rates per minute.
Securus many Lawsuits
At last count I found just under 500 lawsuits, that includes State and Federal complaints. I then opted to narrow my search to focus on two areas, recording of attorney-client prison calls and unreasonable high telephone rates per minute.
The Austin Lawyers Guild is a membership-based, incorporated non-profit organization, which includes as members a number of Austin, Texas criminal defense attorneys. The Prison Justice League is also a membership-based, incorporated non-profit organization, which includes as members people detained in the Travis County Correctional Complex in Del Valle, Texas. The individual plaintiffs are defense attorneys who routinely represent detainees housed in the Travis County Jail and in the TCCC.
The 2016 Settlement required Travis County Sheriff’s Office & Securus create & proved an online system, allowing defense attorneys assigned their phone numbers a “private do not record list,” The settlement also required the use of an “access log” which would “flag” any privileged calls. The settlement further required that local prosecutors shall provide defense attorneys with a written “access of call” letter - which would serve as an official notification in the event of a breach. Keep in mind this settlement was ratified in March of 2016 - which predates the ongoing issues in KS, NY, FL, VA, TX, OK, WA, OR and both southern & northern CA.
Antoon v. Securus Technologies, Inc. Case 5:17-cv-05008 - this was a 2017 Class Action Complaint that alleged that Securus (the defendant) “unlawfully charges up to 100 times the normal market rate for inmates’ calls.” and that inmates are a “captive market” whereby Securus charged unreasonably “exorbitant” rates per minute and that Securus charged “significantly more to receive a single 15-minute phone call from prison” in May of 2018 this case was settled
Romero v. Securus Technologies, Inc. Case No 3:16-cv-01283 - for better context you might find this previous article helpful. I explained how a recent Judge held the entire Kansas AUSA’s Office in Contempt. And specifically explained that this wasn’t an isolated incident. In Ramero v Securus Technologies Complaint this is the muxing of Securus and CoreCivic. Meaning that this prisoner (and presumably many others) had their rights violated when CoreCivic allowed Securus to impermissibly Record Attorney Client (highly privileged communications). November 21, 2018, the court certified a statewide class for Plaintiffs’ California Invasion of Privacy Act Claims. Presently this case has been stayed pending the 9thCCOAs. As Securus filed an appeal concerning the November 2018 statewide certification of a class.
Pearson v. Hodgson Case No 1:18-cv-11130 which alleges that that Sheriff Hodgson abc Securus engaged in the following:
Thomas M. Hodgson (“Sheriff Hodgson”), individually and in his official capacity as Sheriff of Bristol County, and Securus Technologies, Inc. (“Securus”) (together, “Defendants”) alleging that Defendants orchestrated an “illegal kickback scheme . . . that has nearly doubled the cost of telephone calls made from Bristol County correctional facilities”
Securus made payments to the Bristol County Sheriff Office (“BCSO”), including monthly “site commission” payments, prearranged lump-sum payments in lieu of such commissions, and funded administrative services, which violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, M.G.L. c. 93A, and other Massachusetts state laws.
“The kickback scheme that has resulted from this requirement ensures that correctional departments have an incentive to select the telephone company that provides the highest kickback, rather than the service that offers the best value to Massachusetts consumers,”
On December 20, 2018 the Court allowed some of the Complaint to proceed. Earlier this month the Court entered this Order. Shortly thereafter the following documents were filed. I have taken the liberty of converting each filing from the ECF into viewable/searchable PDFs and uploaded each to my public drive.
MEMORANDUM in Support re 76 MOTION to Certify Class filed by Kellie Pearson, The Law Offices of Mark Booker.
Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Declaration of Mark Booker,
Attachment # 2 Exhibit Declaration of Kellie Pearson,
Attachment # 3 Exhibit Declaration Of Class Action Experience Of Stuart T. Rossman,
Attachment # 4 Exhibit Affidavit Of Elizabeth Ryan In Support Of Plaintiffs Motion For Class Certification
Securus Shares your Data...absent a warrant
You will also want to keep an eye on the following cases. The catalyst is somewhat explained in Senator Wyden’s Letter to the FCC, after the New York Times published this article in May of 2018. For your convenience I’ve embedded the following communiques below:
Chairman Pai’s Response to Senator Wyden Regarding Securus and Wireless Carriers Allegedly Sharing Customer Location Information
Morrison v. AT&T Mobility, LLC Case No 1:19-cv-01257
Morrison v. Verizon Communications Inc. Case No: 1:19-cv-01298, Exhibit 4 -Verizon Privacy, Exhibit 5 - Verizon Code of Conduct The other cases are largely duplicative of the previous but nonetheless here are the case numbers, No. 1:19-cv-01299-SAG, No. , No. 1:19-cv-01255
Securus Technologies DUNs
As previously discussed during 2017 Securus went on a bit of a merger and (hostile) acquisition buying spree. Below are a few notable acquisitions;
Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil and criminal justice technology solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, announced today that it has acquired Jobview, a Burnsville, Minnesota-based company with a leadership position in designing, implementing, and maintaining interactive touch screen employment kiosks that help inmates find jobs post release.
Jobview’s main product is called Jobview 2nd ChanceTM, and can be made available on a free standing kiosk, as a software desktop application, and on Securus’ SecureView Tablet.
Satellite Tracking of People LLC (STOP) a wholly owned subsidiary of Securus, announced the unveiling of a new product: SoberTrack™
a mobile, handheld breath alcohol testing unit with GPS location capability. SoberTrack allows community supervision agencies to add alcohol monitoring to their programs to monitor compliance of probationers, parolees and pre-trial defendants who are ordered to abstain from alcohol use as a condition of their supervision.
See March 2019 GSA Announcement of STOP see FPSD Contract Awards Report, I’ve uploaded to my public drive, found here. As you can see it’s a rather lucrative product. And at first glance you wouldn’t know these contract awards filter back to Securus - who has had at least three major data breaches in the past 29 months,
Similarly you should also know that there’s been a years long patent battle between Securus & it’s largest competitor Global Tel*Link (GTL)
SECURUS TECHNOLOGIES INC v. GLOBAL TEL LINK CORPORATION - U.S. Patent No. 7,853,243 - See the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Ruling (20170, found here. The Court held:
Securus Technologies, Inc. (Securus) appeals a final written decision from the United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) in an inter partes review (IPR) of claims 1–6 of U.S. Patent No. 7,853,243 (ʼ243 Patent). The Board concluded that Securus did not meet its burden of proving that these challenged claims are unpatentable as obvious. Because the Board did not err in its conclusion, we affirm.
Securus Technologies Inc DUNs: 192858954 - while extremely limited in Federal Contracts Under this particular DUNs it is important to understand that when researching an organization you have to open your lens a bit wider and figure out what “other” entities or subsidiaries awards might occur. This FPSD Link will take you to the aforementioned awards (previously embedded via USASpending.gov) but like I’ve repeatedly said I’m an old school DC researcher so I tend to use FPSD more than other procurement databases.
In May of 2018, Senator Wyden wrote to the FCC demanding an Investigation into Securus Technologies recent “purchases real-time location information from major wireless carriers and provides the information, via a self-service web portal, for nothing more than the legal equivalent of a pinky promise,” Wyden wrote in his letter to the FCC.
“This practice skirts wire carriers’ legal obligation to be the sole conduit by which the government conducts surveillance of Americans’ phone records, and needlessly exposes millions of American citizens to potential abuse and surveillance by the government,”
This issue has yet to be resolved and what you should know is Securus doesn’t exactly have an exemplary record of data privacy. Meaning if you have used or downloaded Securus Mobile App - your pin-point Geolocation and other personal data has already been scraped. Essentially uninstall their App, now. But if you’re inclined you should read some of the comments on the Google Play Store, a few of them made me laugh out loud. Not to be outdone by their Yelp reviews.
The Securus Technologies Data Breach
Securus announced in November 2015 that they had been hacked. This was later affirmed in their November 20, 2015 letter to the FCC, found here, see page 2 thru 3. Some 70 million calls and data breached. As the Dallas Observer Reported:
Through its SecureDrop anonymous portal, the Glen Greenwald-led website The Intercept was given 37 gigabytes of datahacked from Securus. Included in the data are records from more than 70 million phone calls to 1.3 million unique phone numbers made by more than 63,000 inmates between 2011 and 2014. Download links to many of the phone calls were included with the records.
One would think a single massive data breach would be enough to spend a decent amount of money hardening Securus IT infrastructure. Negative. In May 2018 Securus was hacked (again).
This second data breach caught the attention of Senator Wyden, as previously mention Wyden sent the FCC Chairman a letter requesting the FCC investigate Securus data breaches. Shortly after Senator Wyden’s letter (FYI the current FCC Chairman Pai served as Securus Attorney in 2012, which quickly lead to various lawmakers decrying an inherent conflict of interest) - praised the FCC’s reported decision to open an investigation into reports that a simple flaw on the website of location aggregator LocationSmart allowed nearly any hacker to track the phones of millions of Americans
Third time is the charm, right? Nope - in June 2019 Securus was hacked for a third time - according to Prison Legal News’ June 2019 Article this particular hack was probably the worst of all thee hacks:
Some of the hacked Securus accounts were labeled with law enforcement occupational designators such as “jail captain,” “jail administrator” and “prison warden.” Corrections officials regularly use the tracking service to determine the location of the recipients of phone calls made by prisoners.
“If this account is true, it demonstrates, yet again, that Securus is failing cybersecurity 101, in total disregard for the privacy of the Americans whose communications and private data it should be protecting,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, a leader on privacy issues. “This incident is further evidence that the wireless carriers and FCC need to step up and do much more to ensure that Americans’ location data information and other personal information isn’t sold to companies like Securus that have demonstrated that they simply don’t care about cybersecurity.”
CoreCivic has bigly problems
Similar to the GEO Group - CoreCivic has been repeatedly hit with civil complaints. Terrible facility conditions. Higher rate of inmate on inmate assaults, below are a few instances. For now I’m going to limit my research to the following, although if time permits I’ll publish a follow up in the coming days. But it’s taking an inordinate amount of time cross referencing the Securus & CoreCivic overlaps.
It also seems like an appropriate time to remind you of Assistant Attorney General Yates’ memo to the BOP & the DOJ-OIG 2016 Report (you can read the full article here). Simply put the previous Administration was on track to phase out any and all Private-Public Prison Contracts. For reference on August 23, 2016 then Assistant Attorney General Yates issued the following Memorandum to the Acting Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons - that the Administration reduction of Private Prison Contracts. At this juncture I’m unable to find a superseding DOJ-Memorandum. In large part the DOJ’s Policy is absent a superseding Memo then the last one stands. Perhaps my research skills are rusty but I’ve tried numerous searches, which yielded zero.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned 2016 DOJ Memo states the end goal is to end private prison contracts - specifically for the Bureau of Prisons. In then AAG Yates’ Memo there’s a reference to a 2016 DOJ-OIG Report - concerning Private Prison
Watkins v. CoreCivic Case: 4:19-cv-01807-BYP - gender discrimination complaint where Watkins alleges that CoreCivic favors male employees over female. This was “newly” filed a few weeks ago..
Glover v. CoreCivic, Inc. Case: 3:19-cv-00888 - Glover was a former employee, he faced retaliation after voicing concerns, sustained a work related injury:
while leaving his shift at the Detention Center, Plaintiff slipped in a pool of water left on the floor by prison inmates. Plaintiff seriously injured his knee and quadriceps muscle in this incident. On December 29, 2016, Plaintiff required surgery for this
Underwood v. CoreCivic of Tennessee, LLC JRG2 Case 1:19-cv-00006-JRG-SKL full disclosure this Complaint is a bit of a difficult read, Underwood is a former female employee. She is alleging that she was forced to resign and that she was the only female employee that was assigned to a 60-all-male prison pod. That her coworkers and management created a hostile work environment and she was exposed to incessant sexual harassment by inmates and coworkers.
Coyoy v. CoreCivic, Inc. Case: 5:19-cv-00916 The “needless death of Mariee Camyl Newbery Juárez” an eighteen month old toddler that died in ICE Custody. The toddler and her parents crossed the Rio Grande River:
“into southern Texas in early March 2018, fleeing violence and persecution in their native Guatemala. Ms. Juárez had hoped to find safe haven and a better life for herself and her baby in the United States. Instead, shortly after spending nearly three weeks at CoreCivic’s “South Texas Family Residential Center” in Dilley, Texas—a 2,400- bed jail for immigrant families and children in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—Mariee was dead.”
Simmons v. CoreCivic, Inc. Case: 6:19-cv-00234 - wrongful death of an inmate with an extensive mental health issues:
Mr. Thomas while he was in the custody of the DOC at Davis Correctional Facility (“Davis” or “Prison”) in the town of Holdenville, Hughes County, OK. CoreCivic was additionally responsible, in part, for creating, implementing and maintaining policies, practices and protocols that govern the housing and supervision of inmates at the Prison, and for training and supervising its employees.
To give you a general idea of how much of our tax dollars are going towards CoreCivic, I’m old school - yes of course you can find their contracts in USASpending but like I said I’m an old school DC - Database nerd. You might ask, “okay, why does that 2016 edict matter” - my retort?
See total contract value below.
CoreCivic BOP Contract 15BPCC19FUNP10096
As such I pulled down other more contracts. Contract ID: HSCEDM17F00062
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT Contract ID: 70CDCR18FR0000058,
Awarded May 25, 2018, Detentions & Removal, Award Amount $7,036,580.10.
Awarded Sep 13, 2018, Detentions & Removal. Award Amount $2,056,569.56
Awarded Sep 21, 2018, Detentions & Removal. Award Amount $1,868,361.74
Awarded Feb 13, 2019, Detentions & Removal, Award Amount $1,508,473.31
Awarded Mar 21, 2019, Detentions & Removal, Award Amount $1,969,998.46
Awarded Apr 19, 2019, Detentions & Removal, Award Amount $1,429,997.17
Awarded Jun 6, 2019, Detentions & Removal, Award Amount $999,952.42
At any rate I know that I just deposited an intense amount of information. Research takes time, because I force myself to read everything I blog about. But sometimes I can get lost in the weeds. Notwithstanding I do plan to publish at least 3 additional write ups. As I’d like to dig far deeper into Securus and CoreCivic - especially their private equity financing. My end goal on this particular topic is I would to provide you with a far more fulsome explanation into my unapologetic opposition to private-for-Profit prisons, the recidivism rates, the quality of care and socioeconomic disadvantages. I am rather struck that in the recent Trump Administration’s Prison Reform very little addressed the onerous pricing policies, a wholesale absence of looking at prisoners holistically and improving re-entry programs. It seems to me that if we taught prisoners vocational skills that could remedy (in part) our recidivism rates. - SpicyFiles out (for now)
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