One of the more contentious points in the prison communications industry is the fact that many of the nation’s largest inmate communications companies provide commissions to the institutions in which they are allowed to operate. In fact, many of the bidding processes involved in getting these contracts are centered around the ability of the communications firms to pay the most money possible back to the institutions where they are hired. This means that, in practice, many prison communications contracts are often rewarded simply on the basis of what company can provide the highest rates of return for the institution itself.
Understandably, this often leads to complaints on the part of prisoners and their family members, especially in states like Arizona, where prisoners are often forced to pay up to $1.50 per minute to make outgoing phone calls from the states carceral institutions.
But in other jurisdictions, like Louisiana, companies such as Securus Technologies, one of the leading inmate communications providers in the country, are able to both provide significant sources of revenue to the institutions in which they operate as well as maintaining low rates for inmates placing outgoing calls. In the state of Louisiana, Securus pays an average of 71 percent of all revenues to the institutions where operates. This high commission rate results in the prisons where Securus has its telephone systems making significant revenues from outgoing phone calls, allowing those prisons to maintain themselves well-staffed and operate enough beds to house the ever-increasing inmate population of that state.
But even paying such high commission rates, Securus is able to keep the average price of a phone call in the state of Louisiana down to $0.15 per minute, a rate that is low enough to allow the vast majority of inmates to stay in frequent contact with their loved ones on the outside of prison.