We’re used to saying that someone is a “captive audience” for a major monopoly, but for the millions of Americans living behind bars, that phrase becomes painfully literal. Phone companies that connect inmates to their loved ones on the outside have for years taken advantage of their position with sky-high rates and fees, but the FCC is once again stepping in to help mitigate the problem.
When you think of big business, you probably think of an industry like banking, but it turns out that one of the bigger businesses out there happens to be prisons — both private and federal. While we already know that financial institutions benefit from others, collecting tens of millions of dollars every year from inmates’ families in fees for basic financial services, the healthcare industry has also found a veritable goldmine by contracting services to prisons and jails across the country. [More]
Long-distance and collect calling aren’t something most of us have to think about all that often, anymore. But for the families of the 2.2 million Americans living behind bars, the monopoly contracts that exist on phone companies behind bars, and the exorbitant, sky-high rates that spring from them, are a huge problem — one that the FCC has just taken action to mitigate.
Twenty years after passing a law that banned prisoners from financing higher education with federal grants while incarcerated, the government is ready to begin investing in the education of inmates. [More]
Life isn’t supposed to be easy for prisoners, but should the punishment extend to their families? A new report highlights the ways in which some financial institutions appear to be benefiting from the bad fortunes of others while prisoners’ families fall into debt trying to provide necessities like underwear and toothpaste to their loved ones behind bars. [More]
Prison commissaries sell basic consumer goods like deodorant and snacks, and also optional clothing items like socks and work boots. A reader’s letter brought a dilemma to our attention: the regular warranty exchange procedures don’t work when you’re in prison and can’t receive outside mail. [More]
Just because you’re locked up, you shouldn’t have to miss out on texting buddies, logging status updates and playing FarmVille. Thanks to smuggling channels and intense demand, cell phones have become as much a part of the prison experience as lunchtime brawls and toothbrush shanks.
A new NPR investigation uncovers evidence that the controversial Arizona immigration law came to pass thanks in large part to an intense lobbying campaign by a group that stood to profit from its enactment: private prisons.
In the outside world, Bernie Madoff is reviled. Inside prison, he’s a hero, admired for his stunning successes.
Seven Ohio men between the ages of 27 and 50 were arrested last week and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, after an investigation found evidence that they were gaining access to strangers’ store-issued credit cards to buy and resale merchandise. The group’s leader, who was also charged, is a 33-year-old inmate at Fort Dix, NJ. Investigators think he initially met one of the Ohio men in prison.
We might be dealing with low inflation and even a falling cost of living, but not everyone in the United States is dealing with the same economic woes. Americans who are in prison have their own economy—one with rampant inflation, alleged price-fixing, and a fish packet-based economy.
Bernie Madoff has given his first prison interview…to attorneys representing his victims. Highlights: He’s quite candid now (what has he got to lose?), he can’t believe that he got away with running an epic Ponzi scheme for as long as he did, and apparently he’s been working out.
The war on spam is just as doomed as the war on drugs, but the FBI has won a battle, bringing down a bulk commercial e-mail ring that pimped Chinese penny stocks into unwilling inboxes. They also developed bot network that helped spam avoid detection.
“Mr. Madoff is currently 71 years old and has an approximate life expectancy of 13 years,” wrote Sorkin, whose letter was released on Tuesday. “A prison term of 12 years – just short of an effective life sentence – will sufficiently address the goals of deterrence, protecting the public and promoting respect for the law.”
Remember Thomas Bender? He was the Wendy’s employee in West Virginia who garnished a police officer’s sandwich with a ball of pubic hair earlier this year. He’s just been sentenced to 6 months in prison and 2 years probation.