Securus Technologies, the industry leader in inmate communications, recently offered its competitor, GTL, a chance to show off its video visitation system’s capabilities in a head-to-head challenge against Securus’ video visitation technology. GTL declined. For Securus, GTL’s unwillingness to participate in the contest gave a further boost to the widely held perception that Securus is the undisputed industry leader in video visitation systems.
Detractors have many words but little to say
The challenge that Securus issued to GTL came on the heels of years of hectoring and dubious criticisms on the part of GTL. Some of these criticisms were without any merit whatever, such as GTL’s ongoing claims that Securus had somehow infringed on their intellectual property rights in the implementation of their totally proprietary software.
Other claims had the color of truth but fell apart on closer inspection. These included allegations that the implementation of Securus’ video visitation system throughout the nation’s jails was motivated by corrupt or untoward ends. Specifically, detractors noted that in jails, often times, the installation of video visitation resulted in the permanent removal of traditional, in-person visitations. They contended that this was a violation of inmates’ rights. This charge was more difficult to answer, as the first part was clearly true. Many jails had eliminated traditional visitations after they had adopted video visitation systems.
However, the second part of the allegation, that it was a violation of prisoner’s rights and, implicitly, that there were untoward motives involved, is false. It turns out that there are no constitutionally guaranteed rights for jail inmates to have access to visitations, although the legal picture with respect to prisons is more complex. But, ultimately, the reason video visitation has been used to replace in-person visits at jails is solely due to safety. What’s more, inmates who would have been talking to visitors from behind bullet-proof Plexiglas and over a pay-phone-like receiver often reported a better experience using video visitation anyway.