Throughout the United States, prisons are under constant budgetary pressure and are always encouraged to be as self-sufficient as possible. While many critics decry the high rates that prisoners often pay for phone calls, much of these exorbitant costs can be explained by the fact that prisons are often required to generate revenues in any way possible.
Companies like Securus Technologies play an important part in generating crucial revenues from prison phone systems. This money is used to keep prisons adequately staffed and to aid directly in the investigation of crimes and maintain the phone systems themselves as crime free forms of communication.
In the state of Louisiana, Securus provides an average of 71 percent of all revenues it collects from inmate calling to the facilities themselves. It has done this while managing to keep the average cost of a phone call in the state to just $0.15 per minute, a rate low enough so that almost any inmate can stay in nearly constant contact with his loved ones.
Still, some critics claim that the rates that inmates pay for phone calls should match those that are paid in the free market. However, wardens and administrators warn that such expectations are not realistic. The phone systems within prisons need to be kept secure. This entails the monitoring of all conversations to ensure that the system is not being abused for criminal purposes or to violate the rules of the institution. Such services require manpower and technology, things that suck valuable resources away from other tasks that prison staff must carry out.
For this reason many wardens have advised their critics, should they succeed in forcing market rates upon prison phone systems, they will have no choice but to remove the phones entirely, leaving inmates and their families no way to communicate with one another.