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HRDC comment to FCC on rate increases after effective date of jail reforms - June 2016

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Human Rights Defense Center

Submitted Online Only
June 24, 2016

The Honorable Tom Wheeler, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St. S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
Re: Ex Parte Submission re: Price Gouging of Prisoners’ Families
Following June 20, 2016 Implementation of ICS Jail Reforms,
WC Docket 12-375
Dear Chairman Wheeler:
The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) respectfully submits this ex parte filing to
notify the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) of predatory
practices of at least one Inmate Calling Services (ICS) provider with respect to intrastate rates
and ancillary fees, following implementation of the FCC’s reforms related to phone calls from
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections contracts with Corrections Corporation of
America to run the Davis Correctional Facility (CCA Davis) in Holdenville, OK. 1 Securus
Technologies is the ICS provider for CCA Davis. (Attachment 1 ¶2). Linda Abitbol has a loved
one incarcerated by the State of Oklahoma at CCA Davis, and she notified HRDC on March 18,
2016 that Securus was continuing to charge a transaction fee of $7.95 for deposits made to her
prepaid AdvanceConnect account. Id. at ¶3. CCA Davis houses prisoners solely for the
Oklahoma DOC (Attachment 2) and while this appears to be contrary to the FCC’s Order, 2 Ms.
Abitbol reports that she was required to continue paying $7.95 to deposit funds to her prepaid
account until June 20, 2016. (Attachment 1 ¶4).

Interstate Inmate Calling Services, Second Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
30 FCC Rcd 12763 (2015)


P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth, FL 33460
Phone: 561.360.2523 Fax: 866.735.7136

Page |2

Ms. Abitbol further reports that while the transaction fee she is required to pay to Securus
to deposit funds into her prepaid account was reduced to $3.00 on June 20, 2016, Securus also
reduced the maximum transaction amount to $50.00 (from $250.00), effectively eliminating any
meaningful reduction in fees. Id. at ¶5. Securus also created a rate of $3.60 for the first minute of
intrastate calls from CCA Davis and charges $0.11 for additional minutes. (Attachment 3). The
cost of a 15-minute intrastate call from CCA Davis went up $1.71 on June 20, 2016.
(Attachment 1 ¶6).
HRDC received additional complaints involving the practices of Securus Technologies
with respect to intrastate calling rates on June 21, 2016:

EJ Johnson reported that she used to be able to deposit $100-$200 into her Securus
prepaid account with a $7.95 transaction fee, but the deposit amount has since been
lowered to $50. (Attachment 4, Page 1). Mrs. Johnson also provided us with a copy
of a recent Call Summary demonstrating that the cost of a 15-minute intrastate call
from Holdenville, OK went from $4.03 on June 19, 2016 to $5.75 on June 20, 2016,
representing a 43% increase ($1.72) in the cost of a call. (Attachment 5).


Randy James let us know that Securus is informing consumers who are forced to use
their ICS services through live chat that:
“Due to an order by the FCC, effective June 20th certain fees related to
inmate calling will be reduced or eliminated. As a result, you may see
modifications and rebalancing of calling rates at that time to offset fees
that have been eliminated or reduced.”

Emphasis added. (Attachment 6).

L. Hayes reported that the same message is being disseminated to other customers
through Voice Mail to Text (Attachment 7), and further reported that the cost of a
15-minute intrastate call from the Weld County Jail in Greeley, CO increased from
$3.75 on June 19, 2016 to $5.71 on June 20, 2016, representing a 52% increase
($1.96) in the cost of a call. (Attachment 8).

Clearly, Securus has done nothing more than “re-balance” ancillary fees that have been
either reduced or eliminated by the Commission by increasing its pricing structure for ICS calls,
with the net result of higher costs to prisoners’ family members.
HRDC is calling on the Commission to take action to address these unethical practices.
While Securus may not be violating the law as long as the stays on intrastate rate caps issued
by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit remain in effect, there is no
question that they are not only violating the spirit of the Commission’s Order, but doing so in a
blatant manner that indicates their contempt for the FCC’s reforms and authority.

Page |3

Once again HRDC urges the FCC to take action to ban ALL ancillary fees. As long as
they exist the ICS industry will continue conniving to exploit prisoners and families. Decisive
action is required to end these abusive practices. The Commission will note that as recently as a
decade ago ancillary fees did not even exist. They were created from whole cloth to boost the
bottom lines of the hedge fund-owned ICS providers that exist only to exploit prisoners and their
We also urge the FCC to order all ICS providers to provide copies of their contracts, the
kickbacks they pay to obtain those monopoly contracts and all other remunerations they give
government entities for such contracts, as well as the phone rates and all fees they charge
consumers for ICS services, and make them publicly available on their websites within 30 days
of signing each contract.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Respectfully submitted,

Paul Wright
Executive Director, HRDC

Attachment 1

June 23, 2016

The Honorable Tom Wheeler, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th St. S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Wheeler:
1. My name is Linda Abitbol and I receive phone calls from a loved one in the custody of
the Oklahoma Department of Corrections who is physically incarcerated at the Davis
Correctional Facility in Holdenville, OK which is run by Corrections Corporation of
America (CCA Davis).
2. Securus Technologies provides the inmate telephone service at CCA Davis and I deposit
funds into my prepaid AdvanceConnect account at the Securus website.
3. I contacted the Human Rights Defense Center on March 18, 2016 because the prison
phone rates and fees did not change at CCA Davis on March 17, 2016 like I thought they
were supposed to because of your new regulations, because the prisoners are under the
custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
4. Securus continued to charge me $7.95 to deposit funds to my AdvanceConnect account
until June 20, 2016. Copies of a transaction I made on the Securus website on March 18,
2016 and of an entry to my bank account for a $30.00 deposit to My AdvanceConnect
account I made on April 12, 2016 (totaling $37.95 after the fee) are attached.
5. While it is true that Securus lowered the transaction fee to $3.00 for deposits to my
AdvanceConnect account on June 20, 2016, they also lowered the maximum deposit I
can make to $50.00, which is making me have to pay more than one transaction fee to
deposit the same amount of money I used to.
6. Also, the intrastate rates went up for calls from CCA Davis on June 20, 2016. There is a
new $3.60 charge for the first minute of our calls ($3.71 after 5 p.m.) and then $0.11/min
for each additional minute which has increased the amount of a 15 minute call by $1.71.
A copy of the transcript of a “chat” I had with a Securus representative on June 22, 2016
is also attached.
I cannot believe that the result of the FCC’s order was to make families pay even more than we
had to pay before and would appreciate anything you can do to resolve this horrible situation.
Thank you.
/s/ Linda Abitbol
Linda Abitbol
2734 S 120 E Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74129


Securus Home

Add Funds to AdvanceConnect

Account Number: Redacted
Phone #: (918) Redacted
Balance: $6.48

Billing Address
Your billing address must match your credit card. To avoid failed payments, please update the
billing address to match the credit card.
First Name:
Last Name:
2734 S120 E AVE
City/State/Zip Code:
[ \/]

Payment Details
[ ] Update My Credit Card Information
Credit Card Type:
[ \/]
Credit Card Number:

Expiration Date:

CVV2 Code:
*** What's this?
[X] Save Credit Card

Deposit Amount
Amount to Deposit:

0.01 Max: $ 250.00 )
Transaction Fees: $7.95
Total Charges: $0.00
( Min: $

Automatic Payment Options
( ) AutoPay
Ensure you never miss a call with AutoPay, sign up today!
AutoPay automatically funds your AdvanceConnect account with a preset amount of your choice
whenever your account reaches a balance of $10.00.
( ) TextPay
Ensure you are always connected with TextPay, sign up today!
TextPay will send you a text message when your account balance reaches $10.00. You can simply reply
to the text to immediately fund with your preset amount. If you don't reply no funding will take place.
(X) None
CANCEL [submit]

Pending POS 103669299289-SECURUS CORR BILL SR $37.95

see this is how it comes out on bank statement - but it doesn't break it down ?

June 21, 2016

Lagreisha: Thank you for contacting Securus Correctional Billing Services. My name is
Lagreisha. How may I help you?
linda abitbol: linda abitbol 918-Redacted pin # Reda
linda abitbol: i notice the processing fees/add funds fees have dropped to $3 thats great
linda abitbol: however how do we tell what our phone rates are now
linda abitbol: can u tell me
Lagreisha: I will be happy to provide the rates for the facility. May I have the name of the
facility ?
linda abitbol: davis correctional facility - in holdenville, ok
Lagreisha: Thank you, please allow me 2-3 minutes to review the account.
linda abitbol: ok
Lagreisha: Thank you for holding. I was able to review the account and I am seeing that for
the first minute is $3.60 from 8:00AM-4:00PM and then $0.11 per minute plus tax after the
first minute. Then from 5:00PM-11:00PM the first minute is $3.71 for the first minute and
then $0.11 per minute plus tax after the first minute.

Attachment 2

From: Yandell, Bryan []
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2016 9:30 AM
To: Carrie Wilkinson
Subject: RE: Media Inquiry: Prison Legal News

All of the Offenders here at Davis are under the custody of Oklahoma Department of Corrections
From: Carrie Wilkinson []
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2016 11:26 AM
To: Yandell, Bryan <>
Subject: Media Inquiry: Prison Legal News

*** This is an EXTERNAL email. Please exercise caution. DO NOT open attachments or click links from
unknown senders or unexpected email. ***

Good Morning,
I am with the Human Rights Defense Center, publisher of Prison Legal News. Can you please tell me if all
the prisoners at CCA Davis in Holdenville, OK are under the custody of the Oklahoma DOC, or does CCA
hold prisoners at CCA Davis for other agencies as well?
Thank you.
Carrie Wilkinson
Prison Phone Justice Director
Human Rights Defense Center
801 Second Ave., Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98104
Office: 206.489.5604
Cell: 206.604.6145

See how CCA is making a difference
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Attachment 3

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Rate Quote

Use Securus' Rate Quote to quickly and easily find out the cost of a call or another Securus service.
First, be sure that Securus services the correctional facility you would like to communicate with by checking our Facilities We Serve (/facilities­we­serve) page.
Please select a service below, complete the required information, and click submit.
Choose a Service:


Your Country:

United States

Your Phone Number:




Facility State:


Facility Name:





Facility: DAVIS CCA
Breakdown of Call Rate per Minute







Connection Charge

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

Initial Amount

$ 3.60

$ 3.71

$ 3.71

Additional Amount

$ 0.11

$ 0.11

$ 0.11

Rate periods are based upon the time of the day a call is accepted.
International Calling may not be permitted at all Securus serviced Correctional Facilities.
Please note that facilities may have a connection charge per call, an initial rate for the first minute of call, and then a different rate for each minute after the first minute of a
call. Rates are subject to change.
This rate quote is valid at Wed Jun 22 2016 12:59:07 GMT­0700 (Pacific Daylight Time).
In addition to the quoted rate of the call, applicable taxes and fees may apply. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions (/web/securus/terms­and­conditions).

Attachment 4


EJ Johnson
Carrie Wilkinson
Tuesday, June 21, 2016 6:22:00 PM

I just looked at my account and our bill for each phone call WAS $4.03 with tax every 15
minutes to $5.75 every call now!!!! I am livid!!! So much for helping us... all it did was hurt
us more! I just don't know what to say.
Erica Johnson
On Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 8:10 PM, EJ Johnson <> wrote:
What new surcharge is Securus trying to push on us now? At one time before
there was a bill trying to pass to help the inmates families with phone
bills, you are able to put 100 or even $200 at a time on the Securus
account with one charge $7.95 if you do it on the computer and it was $9.95
if you did it on your phone. Now, since people are having a fit about High
phone bill, Securus has limited our phone bills 2 $50 a lot. That means
every $50 they are charging us that surcharge to put that amount of money
on the wall in order to speak to her husband so they are already making
more money off of us. So I just received a Facebook message saying that now
they are charging us another dollar for the beginning of every 15 minute
phone call? That is outrageous! I don't understand. What happened to the
bill supposedly being passed? Upsettingly , Erica Johnson

Attachment 5

Attachment 7

Attachment 8