Daily Dispatch 4/4/2019

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Daily Dispatch

April 4, 2019

Good news! Phone Company Merger Blocked 

Within the prison industrial complex, a particularly profitable business is managing phone services. In state and federal prisons, and amid the growing complex of immigrant detention centers, two companies, Securus Technologies and Global Tel*Link, dominate this particular service constituting 80% of the market, and are notorious for charging exorbitant rates. A fifteen minute call in Kentucky, for example, costs the incarcerated person $5.70!  

Beginning last year, discussions of a merger between Securus and Inmate Calling Services – the third largest call provider – began. A campaign was organized to push back against the merger. On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that the merger had been withdrawn by the companies. From the Human Rights Defense Center press release:

The non-profit Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), which co-founded the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice to advocate for reforms in the prison telecom industry, including lower phone rates, the elimination of ancillary fees and an end to “commission” kickback-based contracts with corrections agencies, had previously filed a comment with the FCC opposing the Securus merger.

In its July 13, 2018 comment, HRDC noted the proposed merger “would further increase the duopoly nature of the [inmate calling services] industry and thus result in even less competition within that market.” HRDC also called on Chairman Pai to recuse himself from all actions and decisions involving both Securus and the prison telecom industry, in part because prior to his appointment to the FCC he had represented Securus when he worked for the law firm of Jenner & Block. He also had dissented on all votes taken by the FCC during the Obama administration with respect to reforms and rate caps involving prison phone services.

Read the full press release here.

Breaking: 280 People arrested in ICE Workplace Raid in Texas

From USA Today:

More than 280 employees of a north Texas telecommunication repair company were arrested by federal immigration officials in the largest worksite operation in more than a decade, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit executed criminal search warrants Wednesday at CVE Technology Group and four related businesses. CVE is based in Allen, about 25 miles north of Dallas.

We reported earlier this year that workplace raids are up under Trump’s administration (as with most enforcement actions). But this raid is by far the largest raid in over 10 years! More details on how the raid was executed will be forthcoming. ICE is currently facing a lawsuit about its enforcement action in Morristown, Tennessee last year.

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