Securus Technologies continued its acquisition quest in early January 2018 by announcing that the company has agreed to purchase payment processor, GovPayNet. This move aligns with Securus existing payment processing arm, JPay, and will increase their capacity to process debit and credit payments. The company estimates that they will now be able to process over 4 million transactions annually which will make it the largest of its kind in the United States. GovPayNet, based in Indianapolis, will continue to operate under that name and under the leadership of its current CEO, Mark MacKenzie. The company specializes in debit and credit transactions made to over 2,300 government agencies across the country, which covers over 26% of U.S. counties.
Securus Technologies is an inmate technology company that provides a multitude of services to over 12 million inmates and 3,500 corrections facilities in North America. Inmate self-service, phone and video teleconferencing, biometric analysis, parolee and inmate tracking, and email services are just a sample of the number of services the company provides. Securus was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in the Dallas, Texas area with three other regional offices in the United States. The company has spent substantial capital on acquisitions in the past decade, acquiring over 20 entities in that time frame. Securus is led by CEO Bob Pickens.
Prison services giant Securus Technologies has been trying hard to get the word out about the many benefits of its video visitation system. No time is this message more important than over the Christmas season. Spending time in jail is hard enough. But spending Christmas in jail without being able to communicate with one’s family can send an inmate into a state of despair. Likewise, for the families of prisoners it can be unbearably hard not having their sons or fathers present when the little ones open presents under the tree.
Video presentations like this one give some idea of the power a video visitation has to make a tough life situation a little more bearable for all involved. Yet perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of video visitations aren’t the inmates themselves but the family members who are spared the ordeal of going to the prison in-person for a face to face visit that often disappoints.
Prison is no fairytale world
While family members know that prison is not a nice place, they’re sometimes unprepared for the full brunt of the prison environment. Thus, visitations can become a traumatic event for those who are not well-suited to the noisy, martial ambiance of a prison facility.
During an in-person visit, even before they get to see their loved ones, family members are often times themselves treated as suspected criminals. Long lines and sometimes unfriendly staff are typical of a pre-visitation protocol. In some cases, family members may even be subject to search or arrest if prison staff have reason to believe they may be smuggling contraband. The warden will often place his toughest guards on visitation duty so inmates know if they get out of line one inch there will be swift and harsh consequences.
These things may seem overly harsh, even dehumanizing to family members on their first visit. However, they are a necessary precaution from the institution’s perspective. Visitation is the point of entry for much, if not most contraband. Illicit drugs, phones and weapons are no laughing matter at a prison. They can mean the difference between life and death for guards and inmates alike. Therefore, visitation security is some of the strictest in the criminal justice system.
Video visitation spares innocent family members all of this. They can visit their loved one from the comfort of their own living room, in a familiar and warm environment. This is just one reason Securus believes so strongly in reaching as many inmates and families as possible with this new technology.
I have been really impressed with Securus because they are helping us work our halfway house with the kids that are here. These kids have parents in jail, and a lot of them still have their parental rights. We want them to have visitations that work for them, and we believe that it works for the kids to get to do their homework and talk to their parents over Securus. I have been happy with how it works, and I have watched it work right in front of my eyes while a kid is doing their homework.
These kids get to see their parents when they are working on homework, and I have seen parents give some very good help. It is a really sweet thing to watch, and it helps the kids avoid the trauma of going to a jail for a visit which can be a very hard thing. The visits are easy on my tablet or phone, and we just prop them up in front of the kids so that they can talk. We do this every day to help these kids, and we know that it is giving real results because it is changing how we are approaching our work. We are trying to support these kids, and Securus makes it easier.
Their parents want to be able to see them and talk to them, and this is really the best way to do that because it puts the parents right in front of their children without any problem. These children get to talk, and they get to do their homework with their parents which is a really nice touch for them. I know these parents like it, and I can see that the kids get a lot happier when they are allowed to speak to their parents.
Securus Video Visitation – Homework from Securus Technologies on Vimeo.