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How Companies Make Millions Charging Prisoners to Send an Email (wired.com)
144 points by SQL2219 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments

Here you are, after making some mistakes and behaving very badly, the State has full control of you.

They then limit how much you can communicate with normal people.

They are complicit in you being exploited financially.

They look the other way if you are physically or sexually abused.

When you've served your time no one will hire you and you're limited from interacting with society normally.

And we, society, think this is just great! Which ticker can I buy to get in on this action?

Dystopia is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet.

It's an inevitable outcome from the myopic viewing of rights as enumerated primitives, rather than qualitatively - the mob is constantly looking for ways to justify why those rights don't apply to a given person. Prisoners are a super easy target, as their right to liberty is already being violated (justifiably, I think).

Driving a car (even though it's de facto mandatory) - bye-bye rights. On privatized commons (like a shopping mall or Faceboot) - bye-bye rights. Forced to contract for (employment, housing, food, etc) - bye-bye rights. Affecting your own consciousness with substances - bye-bye rights. Caught peeing in some bushes - bye-bye all of your rights.

And all the while, the majority cheers because it is inherently their norms being enforced. The concept of rights wasn't meant to protect the majority, but good luck getting that point across to the majority!

My aunt is in prison and I’ve had to use the JPay app to send her photos and messages.

It’s the most awful piece of garbage you’ve ever seen. It barely functions, and doesn’t even handle the aspect ratio of photos correctly, and sends a tiny barely viewable pixelated version. It frequently crashes and fails to send the message although it deducts a “stamp” from your account. It looks like it was hacked together by the cheapest outsource firm they could find and then never updated. There is no customer support at all.

There’s a special place reserved in hell for people who use technology in such twisted ways.

How is it moral for people to get rich from imprisonment?

IIRC, one of the things more strongly correlated with rehabilitation is contact with family, friends, a personal support system.

Such contact should be fostered, not hindered.

Even if you believe in "punishment" rather than "rehabilitation", as the purpose of prison (a pretty cynical attitude, that you should examine more thoroughly including its many implications and ramifications), what do you expect these people to do when they get out?

Maybe some expense for oversight is warranted, e.g. to prevent leaders from continuing to direct criminal activity while incarcerated.

I don't believe that's what's going on. (Nor, with the ridiculously priced and constrained phone calls.) It's just profiteering.

And letting people -- private organizations -- make money off of prisons, just encourages more prisons. Given how "free market" many of the prominent "punishment" people seem to be, this should be obvious, even to them.

> what do you expect these people to do when they get out?

In the US: Continue to serve as villains and "others" whose suffering pleases a bloodthirsty segment of our population.

Even if you believe in "punishment" rather than "rehabilitation"

You don't have to soften your point with this, rehabilitation hasn't been a component of US prison policy since the mid-70s.

> what do you expect these people to do when they get out?

Two possibilities:

1. They find some legal way to sustain themselves, in which case - because society is currently biased against excons - society can easily negotiate a good bargain. (unless the excon is able to hide their past from prospective employers)

2. They do something bad again, and get caught again, and there's approximately 300-million-to-one odds that the victim of their nastiness-of-choice, isn't me. (Or more, because I don't live in downtown goddamn Chicago.)

A win-win to me, it seems.

Getting rich by

charging insane amounts of money from sick people (healthcare) charging insane premiums and still trying every way to not pay when a person does fall sick charging insane amounts of money in fees from students, selling textbooks for hundreds of dollars, putting them in debt for life - all with not even a guarantee of half decent job when they finish their course making sure workers get slightly less hours than required, so they don't have to pay benefits creating private prisons (WTF)

and on and on...

How is any of this moral?

Ah, it is just business, nothing personal.

How many decisions are made with morality and ethics in mind vs legality in the business world?

This is what happens if we reduce everything to profit and loss

You'll notice that every bit of exploitation you mention is enabled by governments.

Imagine how cheap sending email as a prisoner would be if governments didn't create artificial monopolies either by crony selection or ridiculous barriers to entry. Hint, it would be about as cheap as it is for everyone else.

Prisons are enabled by the people, you decide what should go on in there if you live in an democracy. AFAIK the prison/jail system in the US is administered on county/state/federal level and there are also private versions. From what I've heard it's pretty bad in all of them.

Here in Sweden we have some pretty crappy habits too regarding jails, so I understand the issue with getting the people to unite for prisoners rights.

Another question might be, how isn't it? In every other area of society, if someone is very good at arranging things to achieve some widely valued goal, we think it's OK for them to get rich. If someone is the best jailer in the world would it not be reasonable to reward them? Operating a prison is a lot of work.

The problem is that they are being rewarded for doing the wrong things, there's no problem with rewarding them in general.

Um so if I’m a great assassin, that’s ok? Or maybe I’m a really good burglar? Perhaps I’m a really good organised crime lord? It’s a lot of work to run the mafia, I really should get a good salary right?

If you think that jails should not exist at all, then, granted, nobody should be paid to run them. If jails should exist then presumably you can make a list of the things you would like to see in them, and whoever can best realize that list could be justly rewarded for doing it on your behalf.

You're doing economic analysis on something that is essentially political. Jailers don't get paid because they are the best, they get paid because they have government contracts - presumably they made the lowest bid for the job. They simply do the minimum to continue the contract and use their gains to lobby for legislation that will lead to more imprisonment or ways to leverage their position as jailer - like creating markets they can monopolize.

Supposed to be that service providers compete on cost and efficiency and quality, like anything else.

The market can not function if the government is taking decisions (or a limited numbers of companies, but they are limited in their capacity to fail by the money they have- unlike government budgets)

The market works when individual people take decisions: because there are many of them, some take risks, and they all talk to eachother.

Moral hazard is thick as molasses in this situation. You are making a distinction without a difference.

Have you ever noticed how the government and the police keep attacking the poor ?

There's no more to it than that. They can attack these people for personal gain. They, in this case, of course is the government. The people that make up the law, the government, the police.

If you think this is bad, wait until you see what child services or mental care departments do to people, which is a much worse example of how governments attacks the weak and hopeless. It doesn't matter which governments. It only matters that some people get power over others.


But no worries, this whole thread is discussing how we can fix this with a few more laws.

> It only matters that some people get power over others

I agree with this part. I disagree, however, with your implicit suggestion that fewer laws will help.

The purpose of the government is to protect people, and it's obviously failing at that in the current prison system. But simply punting the problem to the "free market" won't help either - corporations are arguably even worse offenders of exploiting unfair power dynamics.

The real answer, in my opinion, is fixing the broken power structure. After all, the government gets its power from us, and it's one of the few ways people can affect positive change.

Maybe if we all voted responsibly, prisons wouldn't have the power to exploit prisoners like this.

The problem is that the government is little better than thieves. I don't mean that in the abstract. Look at this video :


The video has 2 sections. First, the professor explains the reasoning behind the 5th amendment ... and then a police officer points out how he does it.

Despite that I would agree that this officer is a pretty correct cop. Certainly you cannot call this guy bad or corrupt, and equally certain: he is a pretty smart guy.

He states pretty bluntly what the goal of a police officer is, in criminal cases. You probably think the goal is to arrest the perpetrator, but listen to the guy, it's not. The goal is a confession, the goal is maximizing convictions. Seriously, that's the metric they're judged on: number of convictions. Regardless of any other factor, and frankly using highly illegal tactics (though compared to European police I must say he is a saint). On top of that he has self-control that rivals the best monks.

The average cop, I am sorry to say, is not like this guy. The average cop is much more like Kelso from "that 70s show". The average cop became a cop because he could not get another job, but got accepted in the entrance exam, or (worse) because they enjoy having power over others. Or, like Kelso, a combination of both. They're morons, dumb to the point that people who know them wouldn't leave them alone with a lighter. They're interested in proving their power over others directly by humiliating them (generally in pretty benign ways, but ... like a high school bully that isn't an 8 year old anymore). They regularly screw up badly, and they desperately want to hide those screwups, at almost any cost.

This isn't controversial: everybody who knows a few cops knows this.

Can you imagine what interrogations tactics are when the cop is NOT a 20 year old military veteran with a strong sense of honor and very good observational skills, without good self control ? Oh wait, no need to imagine, just search it on youtube. Warning: actually doing that will not be pretty. Moron police officers shooting people for completely absurd misunderstandings, in scenarios that certainly look like a strong racism, sexism, and just general bullying component is at play.

Doing the same lookups for other forces, like for instance, searching youtube for videos of the UN's "blue helmets" in action ... is far worse. European police forces ... outright disgusting.

The problem is not law. You cannot reasonably argue that the problem is that we just need a few more laws and all will be fine.

Then it's a good thing that wasn't what he argued, isn't it?

>In every other area of society, if someone is very good at arranging things to achieve some widely valued goal, we think it's OK for them to get rich.

This isn't very true. I am OK with people getting rich providing non-essential but much liked X to those with the spare resources.

I am not OK with people getting rich by rent-seeking limited essential resources or perverse incentives.

The societal goal of imprisonment should be minimizing population and cost to society. The financial goal would be maximizing population and minimizing cost to imprison. The societal and financial goals are very much in conflict.

"If someone is the best jailer in the world would it not be reasonable to reward them?"

I mean if we're gonna bring up this anology we've gotta figure out what a "best failer in the world" even means? What is the value the jailer creates? How do define a high performance jailer over just a nominal performant jailer? If there is no extra value produced by the best jailer in the world then we are over paying the best jailer in the world.

There's value in reducing recidivism and escapes. More practically, jails are understaffed, and there's tremendous political value in making Joe Public feel safer.

there's tremendous political value in making Joe Public feel safer.

On this point, without looking it up, what do you estimate the overall recidivism rate to be? Just in a general conversational sense.

Depends on the crime and incarceration level.


Every industry in the world has to address those same questions when organizing itself, although in this case the government is (and by extension we are) involved in the decisions. I would put forward cost-effectiveness and maintaining order as a couple of good qualities that prison operators should be rewarded for but I'm sure we could come up with many others.

> What is the value the jailer creates?

People don't fear being sent to the hospital over an off-color remark. Thieves don't hold honest folk at their mercy. Arsonists haven't done an exact recreation of Sherman's March, or anything similar. Serial murderers haven't killed off any non-negligible part of the population.

That's the value jailers create.

As soon as the monetary reward for doing well is dependent on government contracts, free market values and morals no longer apply.

> best jailer in the world.

I have a new life goal

You must not have ever played The Sims, if you're only now setting this goal ;)

Building dungeons and trapping villagers inside was one of the first things my daughters set out to do in Minecraft. You're facing some stiff competition.

There is a game on Steam called ‘Prison Architect’. I don’t know much else about it but it appears to be a fitting name.

Wow, are you serious?

> wrong things

Says who? How does anyone make that kind of value judgment?

How does anyone make any kind of value judgment?

If something's more value-able to someone than to its current owner, then there will exist a mutually agreeable price at which that someone will be able purchase that something. Beyond that...?

I don’t think that’s the sort of value that’s relevant here.

Here’s a value judgment for you: rent-seeking is evil.

It's unproductive and inefficient compared to any alternative, but calling it "evil" requires that the result be a monopoly power, and the only monopolies in the scenario here are the government itself and any exclusive contracts it may grant to private entities. These are evil, I'll agree.

But in other circumstances, the more general forms of rent-seeking can be a way to re-internalize an externality (e.g. a quantum of atmosphere that a factory could pollute), and is thereby critical to preventing "tragedy-of-the-commons"-style scenarios without violence such as rationing.

Don't you want to be able to protect the environment better than the EPA's incompetence and corruption could possibly hope to?

How is it moral to make money off of selling shoddy products and services to people and not actually holding up your end of the deal? But that happens all the time. It's the way of business for many companies. Coinbase takes money from its customers and doesn't give them anything back for months at a time while itself becoming more valuable by the day. That's not moral, but they'll have a front page posts over the next month, celebrating some venture of theirs. Or some CEO who is known for regularly exaggerating/lying or calling people they don't agree with slurs will have people rabidly defending their honor when that rich person has done nothing for them. That's not moral.

When the top of society is greedy, you can't expect the lowest rungs to be any better. We barely care about people if they are contributing members of society (unless you've got money), we sure as hell aren't gonna care about prisoners.

It's just hypercapitalism. You sound surprised, but it's business. If you can exploit, you do exploit as far as legally possible and then make excuses later. I bet you the contractors have some great justifications for why what they do isn't immoral and is even good and necessary.

Short answer: it's not moral, but we're greedy and it's hard to admit that.

Young teens to thirty somethings that seem interested in social issues aren't terribly interested. This disparity is known as virtue signaling and was pioneered by religion, politicians, and most recently, business. Now it's even trickling down to poor people. It's fashionable to lament the tragedy of the socially poor. Fashionable in much the same way as handing out jobs to the incompetent because their skin is a certain color or their sex is outside the norm. These tactics do little to solve problems, but go a long way towards increasing social divides between percieved groups. Instead of granting jobs to those incapable of meeting the standards their "less diverse" colleagues have we should be rallying for universal health care, workers rights (regardless of protected classes), universal higher education/ trades schools that track straight from high school and are continually redesigned with knowledge of leading educational research, and a massive increase in public funding for pk-12 education that does not unfairly benefit self segregated communities by wealth as a result of land taxes.

I am really with you on this, but I’d assert there’s more to it.

It’s tough to blame them. Surely awareness is lacking but even if it isn’t, we’ve got a system in which your own well-being depends on being part of a social circle. The economics of associating one’s self with issues which are themselves associated with low-income or low-popularity is not seen as an option.

On top of that, there is virtually unlimited liberal political funding for virtue signaling because it’s a very indirect way to signal compassion without economic action to back it up. This plays really well to middle and upper class people and in-turn lower class people seeking to mingle with higher classes adopt the behavior.

The fact of the matter is that freedom of expression is massively contingent on economic security; and at some point even moreso than education. Socialized securities are America’s greatest hope at the moment.

Recommended reading: Mark Fisher, Pierre Bourdieu

Recommended voting: DSA-endorsed

private prisons... an even bigger "joke"

I could argue the technological panopticon is a prison for the enlightened. Likewise how is moral for charity CEO's, politicians or any other head of a hierarchical in structure enterprise moral? Is money even moral? It certain makes the exchange of goods and services easier within a domain, but does the constant need for inflation of the money supply make it simply a ponzi scheme by another name? Perhaps Bitcoins is the 21st digital gold it was designed to be, considering its finite supply on a finite planet, helps to the curb the excess of capitalisation because the markets dont always know best.

Regulatory capture is terrible.

Another example: Once I needed some court records. Not surprisingly, they're recorded in proprietary format, only playable with a proprietary media player, and all to enormous cost to the taxpayer, all while applicable state law demands these court records be open access to the public.

I want to be outraged by JPAY but I can't be. 47 cents per email seems like a lot but it's not. Consider a typical home situation, Spectrum charges $50 a month just to get internet service that does not include the hardware, maintenance, taxes and who knows what else. Divide service cost by .47 cents and that works out to something like 100 emails. I know for a fact that I don't send that many emails a month. So, in reality, I would be paying more than that per email. Sure, I use the internet for other purposes so I'm ok with it.

JPAY has to deal with all the fixed costs of setting up the internet connections plus ongoing maintenance. There are only a few information services that society wants prisoners to use in prison since all prisoners have been proven to be untrustworthy. Email is one of the few so JPay has to charge high rates just to get a return on their investment. I'm not crying for them since they are making a good return.

I don't like the situation but the alternative is no e-mail. It's obvious prisons don't want the responsibility of providing it and private companies want a high return for doing it.

Like it or not JPAY is providing a service that wouldn't exist otherwise. 47 cents per email is high but it's acceptable given the alternative.

.47 is not reasonable by any measure.

You can't compare being in prison with signing up with an ISP.

Prisoners also have basically no income. They are often charged per day on their accounts as well and are charged high mark up for basic commissary items and outrageous mark up for phone calls (even more than email).

This is exploitation, plain and simple.

Actually the cost should be zero.

The prison has an internet connection anyway, one would just need a router with VPN support (to separate traffic) and 10 locked down wired terminals.

Charging per email is complete bollocks.

I was surprised that the article did not mention the fact that Idaho prisoners recently gamed their jpay tablets to steal $225k https://qz.com/1343662/inmates-gamed-their-prison-issued-tab...

They didn't "steal $225k", they gamed the tablets and sent messages that would have normally cost them $225k in the magic beans that these awful leeches make them buy to communicate with their families.

I generally wouldn't commend criminal behavior, but good for them.

Of course, if you can profit nicely off of people's misery and suffering, it'd almost be un-American not to. These perverse incentives go a long way to explaining what a shitty society we live in. Over two and a half million people locked up isn't good enough. Let's charge them for email. Let's root for them to get raped or murdered inside. They must deserve it even if over ninety percent didn't even have a chance at a trial when they were threatened with a plea deal or an absurd amount of time in jail. There is so much hate and cruelty here, it's beyond sickening.

Prison labor is the natural next step in the race to the bottom for wages.

Look at the development of chain gangs in the 1870s US and you'll see it was an explicit mechanism for restoring slave labor to the southern economy.

Specifically look up Parchman and Angola which are hardly the only instances, merely the most famous ones.

It's been that way for a long, long time, but it's only useful for cheap products (the labor is inconsistent for obvious reasons) and is stuff that may eventually be automated.

Thankfully there's a real limit for abuse. It should be a declining problem.

The only way to repair this is to allow competition where the inmates can choose from a list of applications built to whatever security standard.

This is an interesting read

While profiting off inmates may seem predatory to some extent, it does offer a service that was not there before the dotcom age.

When we look at prison communication back in the day, it was through locally wired telephone systems. The loved one or family member had to physically be present to speak to the person, but with technology something like an ekiosk (essentially the same types you see at newer airports, olive garden, etc), this does not have to be the case. You can be halfway across the world and still have more than just a phone call with someone who is incarcerated using the internet.

Prison phones are a commodity but now it seems to be legalized in a sense with this type of kiosk gateway for buying news, watching TV shows, etc.

I've done a bit of work with prisons before, the restrictions for equipment inside of it are absurd. Everything is considered a weapon in prison. I can only imagine the amount of censorship involved with this gateway though, its like bigbrother 1984

> but with technology something like an ekiosk (essentially the same types you see at newer airports, olive garden, etc)

What's an ekiosk? And Olive Garden is a fast food chain isn't it? What do these two things have to do with each other and with prisons? And why do you need ekiosk or fast food chains to solve this? You just need any two tablets and an internet connection.

Ekiosk is just a short term that people use IIRC, similar to "drones" and "quadcopters".

Its just a tablet (using a samsung galaxy normally), that is encased and mounted physically. Similar to what you would see at bestbuy when window shopping but more robust.

I've seen them in McDonalds and some innovation centers in specific Airports (https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-future-of-airport-dining-i...). These restaurants utilize empty-dead space in larger central walkway aisles in airports. The one I'm thinking of is in Newark, NJ , I went to that airport on a layover to switzerland last year.

Many innovations in restaurants get passed along to prisons after the fact IMO. The demands for higher market innovations builds unique solutions that end up getting pushed to other industries such as prisons.

So with all that talk of restaurants, Best Buy, ekiosks, innovation centres, airports, drones, window shopping, the actual idea is just 'let people call each other over the internet like the rest of society does'?

More or less, its not an amazing technological innovation by any means its more of an adoption of business solutions existing in the market already.

I find the social support systems in America awfully poor from my experience growing up in the US and observing what was provided or obtainable (depending on personal financial status). It's no surprise to see this first world country lacking compassion towards others who didn't find the variables to succeed. The capitalist mindset feeds from irrational behavior and lack of understand towards you are who you are from genetics, environmental factors and all events in a linear ordered progression (life). So many times I've encountered people just write off a person they consider a failure to themselves by having oneself obtain the variables to succeed and refusing to acknowledge the other person(s) didn't have the same experience. How people even have the capability of profiting from these extremely unfortunate people shows everyone is at fault in the US for allowing it. Everyone should take responsibility or leave the country like I did. You're unlikely to succeed when the majority are irrational and you're less fortunate.

This x 1000. If Aliens were trying to find an example of advanced civilization and they saw how things operated in the US, they’d very much think we are a messy and non functioning civilization that would eventually wipe ourselves out.

The truth is we as a nation consider prisoners as a second glass citizen. Like humans with defects from a manufacturing plant that need to be contained in jails away from everything.

And we have a dark side of capitalism that optimizes for stock value without regard for human element. We are already in the world of AIs optimizing endlessly to increase a magic number without much regard to external consequences.

It still amazes me the human waste of US prison sentences. Armed robbery in the UK for a 17 year old, from memory, is likely to attract significantly less than 10 years of actual time served.

Yet in the UK we are not overrun with armed robbers. I think the deterrent effect of a long sentence is rather lost on a 17 year-old who is already making bad life decisions.

The problem in the US is that there was a period of time, still somewhat ongoing, where politicians could score a few points by promising to be "tough on crime." George H. W. Bush once went on TV to say that if longer sentences and mandatory minimum sentences meant paying for more prisons, we would pay for more prisons. One of the worst things about tough on crime politics is the feedback loop it creates -- if your opponent is tough on crime, you would have to be even more tough on crime, so the concept spread across the political spectrum (Charles Schumer is a proud "law enforcement hawk").

This is easy to observe in judicial elections where said judges get tough prior to elections.

But there's more to it than that. The US system doesn't rehabilitate prisoners well, so letting a person who was committing armed robbery (this isn't a small offense, it's terrorizing innocent people) at 17 out at 22 isn't much better than letting them out at 27. The chance of recidivism is high, and so letting them out early is likely to backfire.

You'll recall that Bush did successfully use recidivism against Dukakis in 88. He abused that to win politically, but the system failed somewhere.

I think the real problem in the US is the legal discrimination that goes on to people with criminal records. Records don't automatically get 'spent' like most other countries after a period of time so always need to be declared, which makes it hard to impossible to get a job.

You also lose student aid access, landlords can turn you away from housing legally because of it, etc.

So even if you 100% want to be a normal member of society, you will hit so many roadblocks it is very difficult to do so.

My daughter has a felony record. When she was looking for a job I told her to lie on her applications. If she declared the conviction she wouldn't get the job, if she lied and they checked she wouldn't get the job. If she lied and got the job she wins. There is nothing to lose by lying on your job application if you have a conviction.

I think “Rehabilitation” is probably a distraction. A mere chance might be all that they need, and America denies that to even people who have not committed a crime. The lack of social mobility means that regardless of what programs or mindsets one experiences in prison, they are all but forced right back into the same environment that put them there in the first place.

Well, to be fair, the UK isn't awash in numerous cheap guns either. I agree with the sentiment, but there are plenty of things that more significantly affect the UK/USA's crime rate than deterrence via incarceration.

The idea is not a deterrent. The idea is if someone spends most of their life in prison they are not going to be able to commit crimes outside.

Effective or not, the reasoning is fairly straightforward.

But you have to let them out at some point. The longer they’re in the more likely they’re going to be to commit crime when they do leave.

> But you have to let them out at some point.

The idea behind "tough on crime" is that actually, you don't: A nineteen-year-old mugged some people to pay for food/drugs/I'll-ask-my-caddie's-chauffeur-what-else-poor-people-spend-money-on? Great! We can use them as slave labor on and off for the rest of their life, and the less opprotunities for "off", the better.

Without some rehabilitation programs chances are that they will get back to prison regardless of how long or short it's their stay. I guess the gov has to decide if it's worth to pay for rehabilitation or just keep them in jails. The latter is easier to implement and to sell.

Re-offending rates are lower in counties that do provide rehabilitation rates, it’s pretty well known. So the US government is wrong on this point if that’s what they’re judging against.

Most people in positions of influence aren’t stupid though- clearly there is something else swaying the decision. I would imagine that for-profit prisons are probably the root cause.

A sentence has always a correcting, an deterring, a protecting and a vengeance component. (Not very educated on law though. That's what I learned in my mandatory philosophy of law class as an undergrad long ago.)

> A sentence has always a correcting, an deterring, a protecting and a vengeance component.

No, those are among the different theories of the function(s) of criminal punishment. It is not the case that every criminal sentence incorporates all four as elements.

The US is very heavy on protecting and vengeance. There is no interest in correcting and it seems harsh sentences don't deter much either.

Is it really so hard to compete with this company? It's only a monopoly because no one else went in and did the work. Whats preventing anyone else from making these kiosks and charging a penny per call/email?

Getting them to prisons? It’s not like the customers (that is, the convicts, not prison officials) have a free choice of the service provider. It’s not a free market and the current situation is perfect for rent-seekers.

As Sharlin says, getting into the prisons. There are other companies, like CorrLinks and AccessCorrections. (I believe CorrLinks has all of the federal prison system, in addition to some states.) These systems can work both ways or one way. For example, federal prisoners can email back and forth via CorrLinks; while some systems, only allow incoming email, which is printed out and provided to the prisoner.

30 years for armed robbery? I've seen less for murder. Maybe Kim Kardashian can get him pardoned.

On topic: if you see prison as a punishment then paying for email is part of it. If you see prison as a place to store bad people but treat them fairly while they're there, then I guess it's morally wrong. As the risk of whataboutism, charging for email is really the least of our moral problems with prisons. People are profiting greatly from the prisons themselves.

Some people commit crime because they have things biologically wrong with them. I'm not convinced they're anything but a minority. I think most offenders violent or not end up there because a series of bad decisions. I'd hope prisons could be placed to help put people on better paths. Paying extortion prices for email isn't helping them.

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