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Company surveils prisoner phone calls, sometimes with attorneys on the line

Nov 07, 2023 12:33 pm

Molly Burke reports in the Times Union that Securus Technologies, a Texas-based company that provides telephone services to thousands of inmates in New York’s prison system and several county jails is being hit with multiple lawsuits alleging it violated inmates privacy rights, including recording privileged calls with attorneys. Many courts have allowed prison officials to surveil inmate communications, but not with attorneys. The company’s software records conversations inmates have on phones, and then transcribes those discussions. Seven years ago in California, Securus Technologies agreed to a $900,000 settlement in a case about the company illegally recording prisoner calls. The Maine Monitor found in 2019 and 2020 that there were recordings of calls between at least 161 inmates and attorneys from 34 law firms at jails that contract with Securus Technologies. But a federal class-action lawsuit filed in Maine against the company failed to show Securus Technologies intended to record those calls. The company has settled with payouts other lawsuits. Elizabeth Daniel Vasquez, a counsel at Neighborhood Defender Services, said, “Since 2014, they have been sued year after year, in jurisdiction after jurisdiction, for this same problem and the same practice and they’re not doing anything to effectively end the issue.” The company released a statement saying, “Securus Technologies takes privacy and security extremely seriously, which is why we have worked diligently to protect the rights of our product users, including incarcerated individuals, correctional staff, and the public.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.