Securus Technologies loves charging exorbitant fees for families to talk to incarcerated loved ones

Speed traps and property confiscations are among the worst abuses of state power, IMHO. You're generally helpless to fight back, regardless of how capricious the claims against you.

A new outrage joins the pantheon of state perpetrated awfulness. This piece in The New Yorker lays out a new abuse I had not heard of before: relatives of the incarcerated no longer allowed to visit in person.  

Last fall, Le'Essa [Hill] learned why the children of Flint had been blocked from seeing their parents at the Genesee County Jail. 

That sounds draconian. Why would such a policy be instituted?  I'll give you one guess. 

In 2012, a company called Securus Technologies struck a deal with the county, offering financial incentives to replace jail visits with video calls. Families would pay fees that could exceed a dollar a minute to see their loved ones on an often grainy video feed; the county would earn a cut of the profits.

Of course. Money. In a world where anyone can Zoom in HD for free, these greedy bastards are charging exorbitant rates to the poorest of our society… and giving them grainy video to boot. 

Okay, what is this Securus Technologies? 

In the early two-thousands, private equity entered the picture. 

Duh — of course it's private equity, the locusts of capitalism: they provide nothing… they just show up, consume everything and move on to the next. I don't know how these people live with themselves.

Dozens of smaller companies were consolidated into two national juggernauts: GTL, which is backed by the private-equity firm American Securities, and Securus. "The American prison-communications market was appealing to private equity, in part because prisons and jails are recession-proof," Elizabeth Daniel Vasquez, the director of the Science and Surveillance Project at Brooklyn Defender Services, told me. 

Obviously, they're not going to stop with just charging for phone calls:

Various players within the industry experimented with monetizing nearly every aspect of incarcerated people's daily lives, charging five cents a minute to read books on tablets, selling digital "stamps" required to send messages to people on the outside, and imposing steep fees on family members who sent funds for the commissary. 

Is there anything these greedy fucks touch that they don't destroy? (Rhetorical question — we all know the answer.)

So what can be done?

Two national nonprofits, Civil Rights Corps and Public Justice, were working with the families to lay the groundwork for a pair of innovative lawsuits, asserting that, under the Michigan constitution's due-process clause, people have a legal right to see their loved ones in local jails. 

I hope they win but I doubt it. Our society is expert at punishing the weakest and most vulnerable.

Previously: Ajit Pai loves monopolies, especially when they rip off prisoners' families