A coalition of advocates for inmates has asked the FCC to deny the joint application of Securus Investment Holdings LLC and SCRS Acquisition Corp. for approval of the sale of prison payphone provider Securus Technologies from ABRY Partners to Platinum Equity, citing the failure of ABRY and Securus to abide by previous commitments not to change inmate calling rates. In their petition to deny filed in Wireline Competition docket 17-126, the inmate advocates called the proposed transaction “a microcosm for everything that is wrong with the prison-industrial complex and the growing trend of local, state and federal governments privatizing services they once provided, without any consideration of the impact on their citizens.”
They added, “In order to obtain monopoly control to provide inmate calling services at a correctional facility, private companies like Securus voluntarily agree to split the revenue they earn with the government agency. This revenue-sharing scheme has led to Securus and other companies voluntarily agreeing to remit to the correctional authority up to 98% of the revenue earned in order to be selected as the sole source of telephone, video visitation, email, education and commissary services for inmates and their families at that correctional institution.”
They said that the FCC had rejected petitions to deny the 2013 transfer of Securus’s FCC authorizations to ABRY Partners based, in part, on “commitments by ABRY and the Securus leadership to not make any ‘changes in rates, terms, or conditions of service as a result of the transaction.’ As reflected herein, Securus failed to comply with that commitment by actually raising Intrastate ICS rates across the country.
“In addition, when the Commission prohibited per-call connection charges and flat-rate fees in 2016, Securus simply rebranded the charges as ‘flat-rate fees’ and continued on. Coupled with numerous public admonishments for violating other Commission rules, policies and procedures, Securus has clearly demonstrated that it lacks the character qualifications to remain a holder of Commission-issued authorizations,” they said.
The groups that signed onto the petition were the Wright Petitioners, Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, Prison Policy Initiative, the Human Rights Defense Center, the Center for Media Justice, Working Narratives, United Church of Christ Office of Communications, Inc., and Free Press. —Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org