back to article Securus sued for 'recording attorney-client jail calls, handing them to cops' – months after settling similar lawsuit

Jail phone telco Securus provided recordings of protected attorney-client conversations to cops and prosecutors, it is claimed, just three months after it settled a near-identical lawsuit. The corporate giant controls all telecommunications between the outside world and prisoners in American jails that contract with it. It …

  1. HildyJ Silver badge


    The first lawsuit was dropped because the lawyers couldn't prove intent.

    The intent is clear. Securus intended to get their extremely lucrative contracts renewed by giving jailers, police, and prosecutors anything and everything that would make them happy.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Intent

      Or it could be that they are just cheap, and save money by recording all calls and providing all calls to the prosecution/police. Having a way to disable recording of attorney/client calls, or removing them later could cost money.

      Either way they are scum, and the correct punishment should be the voiding of all their contracts for prison phones nationwide. They should be replaced by a nonprofit that provides the calls (and recording of non privileged calls to be accessed only in response to a subpoena) at cost to inmates, without any profit motive. Restricting inmates access to calls from family only leaves them more isolated, forming stronger attachments with other inmates thus becoming more likely to offend upon release since the only friends they have are ones from prison.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Intent

        becoming more likely to offend upon release

        Ah, but in the US they only want to punish people, not correct their ways or help people to integrate into society. Prisons exist to make money.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Intent

          " Prisons exist to make money."

          The USA's 13th amendment is writ large in this issue

          Slavery is not outlawed - and that's the problem.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Intent

        Nonprofit, aye, there's the rub. Alas, prisons want their share of the money, as provoked by certain legislatures no doubt. "Tough on crime" vs. "fairness to all". Let's see, which gets them elected?

        (Sheriff wanted to make 'extra' from the inmates - see 3rd para, but note they're only just getting around to this nowadays, cuz it's a special topic nowadays? why'd they wait?)

        1. Phones Sheridan

          Re: Intent

          There was a story I came across earlier on in the year, where it was legal for a sheriff to keep money allocated to jails, if they came in under budget. The sheriff endeavoured to come in $2 million under budget earning a small fortune in the process. This sherriff and many others like him are claiming this is all above board and legal.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Intent

            if business did that proportionatley , eg "you keep 10% ", or whatevers a suitable amount , it would get rid of the "Quick spend all the money or we wont get the same amount next year" wasteful mentality

          2. trindflo

            Re: Intent

            Sort of like the beadle in Oliver Twist?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Intent

      "... it was necessary to prove that Securus had intended to record the privileged calls ..."

      I didn't think lack of intent was a defence. Based on that logic I guess it means manslaughter should no longer be a criminal act.

      1. teebie

        Re: Intent

        Difference crimes require different levels of intent. Some are strict liability, some require intent, others require intent or recklessness.

        And criminal law and civil law have different rules.

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Intent

          And why is that?

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Intent

        So....they got off in 2016, because it was necessary to prove intent, and promised a whole bunch of reforms.

        Now, in 2019, they're caught doing the same thing. Would you not say it must be intentional, since they promised all those reforms, which presumable have been implemented?

        Securus need to have the proverbial book thrown at them.

        But, of course, that won't happen and we'll be back here in 2021, doing the same dance all over again.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done to the cop

    Nice to see cops who are willing to protect the legal system when they see it being abused.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Well done to the cop

      The ones suing are three defense lawyers. The only mention of cops in the article is to say that they obtained illegal recordings.

      And, if they obtained them, they used them. What is not said is if the cops knew the recordings were illegal, although I bet listening to the recordings should make it pretty clear.

      1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

        Re: The only mention of cops ...

        Quote from the article: "The recordings only came to light in May after a detective was listening to copies of recordings he had been provided, and recognized the voice of one of the lawyers, John Tebbetts, talking to his client. The detective alerted Maine’s Attorney General and the AG then informed the lawyers, ..."

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Indeed, it would appear that I missed that. Thanks for the heads-up.

  3. KittenHuffer Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Can I just ask ....

    ... who watches the watchers?

    1. Kane Silver badge

      Re: Can I just ask ....

      "... who watches the watchers?"

      Obligatory Sir Pterry quote incoming:

      'Yes, your grace. Nevetheless, I must represent the public interest here. I shall try not to be obtrusive.Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? your grace.'

      'I know that one,' said Vimes. 'Who watches the watchman? Me, Mr. Pessimal.'

      'Ah, but who watches you, your grace?' said the inspector, with a brief smile.

      'I do that, too. All the time,' said Vimes. 'Believe me.'

  4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    What is the whole point of securephone's business??

    The article says it costs 100x the going rate to run a "prison phone" the only benefit appears to be calls are recorded.

    Dont call centres , and every other business do that anyway? (for training purposes!)

    The pbx's ive worked on have lots of wonderful features like who gets to dial out of state / country etc etc

    why do they need extremely costly "prison phones?"

    1. Giles C Silver badge

      I read that as it charges 100x the going rate for making calls.

      so it a call costs $1 outside prison then the same call from inside the prison costs $100.

      As the strange us phone system charges you to receive calls rather than dial them this could be rather pricey.

    2. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Prisons and call centers

      ISTR some years back when a prison was contracting out inmates as call-center workers. Some contracts involved, e.g. processing medical or unemployment claims. The sort of task that would provide access to private info that could be useful for ID theft. But of course, prison inmates would never be tempted to a life of crime, right?

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      ...why do they need extremely costly "prison phones?"

      1. [literally]Captive audience

      2. sole provider

      3. $$$$ PROFIT $$$$

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    The universal get out of jail card

    "Securus claimed the recordings were the result of a software glitch, rather than an intentional act..."

    Meaning "Our software is crap so we're not liable"


    "We take your privacy seriously"

    "it was a sophisticated attack"

    "there's no evidence of the data being abused"

    "I'm sorry you feel like that"

    These and many more amount to the same real declaration, which is:

    "we don't give a toss, but we'll say whatever it takes to make you shut up and go away"

    This is an almost universal malaise of the current ethical monoculture, based on the assumption that the prime duty is to avoid admitting responsibility for anything at all.

  6. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    software bug?

    We bugged you, and implemented it in software?

  7. Graybyrd

    All perfectly integrated

    First, consider the estimate (past news articles) that some 95% of felony convictions in the U.S. criminal justice system are the result of prosecutorial coercion to accept a plea bargain and receive a lesser sentence, or fight the system and receive the maximum sentence upon conviction. This officially-sanctioned efficiency measure to ease the log-jam of the American court system rather makes a grim circus of the entire process. So... in the context of the article, it's perfectly reasonable that jailers, police, prosecutors and judges would see little remiss in illegally obtained recordings between a prisoner and his defense attorney. As for the officers of the court benefiting from ill-gotten fruits of illegal process... why, ignorance is a wonderful defense, and who said the wiretapped protected conversations were ... wrongly obtained? It's all a marvelously efficient system to deal with such a huge burden of crime and punishment.

    Such a Dickinsonian web we've woven for ourselves. A word to the wise: avoid lengthy stays in the U.S. You don't really understand our systems.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: All perfectly integrated

      Dickinsonian - Emily?

      Or Dickensian - Charles?

      Or perhaps a sinister and strange substitution for Kafkafkafkaesque?

      1. Graybyrd

        Re: All perfectly integrated

        Yeh, that guy. Dickens. Who wrote stories about when it was a crime to be poor in England. Our ruling class over here admired that concept so much that we've adopted it. We've made corporate-owned & contracted prisons our fastest-growing economy in our rural areas. They make furniture for the government offices even cheaper than third world countries. So that thing about taping and handing over lawyer-client conversations? Just a convenience. Dickens would have made a good story out of that.

        Happy now? Not to belittle Emily, mind you.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: All perfectly integrated

          Not to belittle Emily, mind you.

          That's OK, she understands.

          // Univ of Mass, Amherst graduate

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021