Inmate communications: A valuable tool, or a dangerous threat?

Due to advances in technology, inmates in jails and prisons are now able to easily talk to anyone. Email, text, and social media are just a few examples. While prisoners have very limited, if any, access to these new forms of communication, scheming inmates know how to use only a few minutes to plan their escape. So, are these new forms of communication a threat, or do they simply provide inmates with a chance to see the outside world again?

Calls made from inside prison walls are not cheap. In Arkansas, an in State call costs around $4.75, while an out of state call costs about $10.75. These expensive calls are, in part, to show inmates that they do not have free communication access, and to discourage them from using the phone too often. However, for an inmate planning to escape, 10 dollars for a phone call is a small price to pay. Many argue that inmate communications cannot be considered dangerous, as all conversations are heavily monitored. This is true, however, some inmates could use a form of “secret” language to communicate.

There is another side to inmate communications: one that serves a good purpose. Inmates are able to call almost anyone they want. One inmate, Richard Tabler, who is on death row, called the Texas Senator, John Whitmire, to tell him how terribly he was being treated. Whitmire serves on a criminal justice team, and was able to make changes to Tabler’s stay.

While inmates are able to use communication rights to plot new crimes, they can also use them to simply talk to their family, or to improve their life in jail.