Securus Technologies, Inc. and the Sheriff of Bristol County, Massachusetts are facing a proposed class action that claims Securus charges “grossly inflated” prices for telephone calls made from Bristol County correctional facilities.
Securus Technologies, Inc. and the Sheriff of Bristol County, Massachusetts are facing a proposed class action that claims Securus charges “grossly inflated” prices for telephone calls made from Bristol County correctional facilities. More specifically, the lawsuit claims the defendants have engaged in an “illegal kickback scheme” that has “nearly doubled the cost” of telephone calls made from the Bristol County Jail, the Bristol County House of Correction, the Bristol County Sheriff's Office Women's Center, the Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center, and the Ash Street Jail and Regional Lock-Up.
According to the lawsuit, which was recently removed to federal court, Securus pays the Bristol County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) a fee – sometimes known as a “site commission” – in exchange for an “exclusive phone service contract” that leaves inmates, their loved ones, and their attorneys with no option other than to pay the company’s supposedly inflated prices for phone calls. Per the complaint, Securus is effectively recouped for these allegedly illegal "site commissions" through the charges paid by prisoners, loved ones and legal counsel for phone services.
As for the contracts between the defendants, the lawsuit explains that the BCSO requires telephone service bidders to include “commissions” or other “compensations” in their proposals, effectively resulting in the BCSO choosing the company that will profit it the most.
“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,” the complaint reads.
The case argues that for prisoners at BCSO facilities, phone calls are “the primary means of maintaining family ties and securing legal counsel during their incarceration.” The suit poses that because of the defendants’ allegedly illegal scheme, detainees are forced to pay a higher price for necessary services than they otherwise would absent Securus’ “privatized system.”