Making millions out of prisoners’ email

What a racket.

Making millions out of prisoners' email

Wired writes about how companies are making millions of dollars by charging US prisoners to send an email:

Inside prisons, e-messaging companies are quietly building a money-making machine virtually unhindered by competition—a monopoly that would be intolerable in the outside world. It’s based in a simple formula: Whatever it costs to send a message, prisoners and their loved ones will find a way to pay it. And, the more ways prisoners are cut off from communicating with their families, the better it is for business. Which means that stamp by stamp, companies like JPay – and the prisons that accept a commission with each message – are profiting from isolation of one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. And, with prisoners typically earning 20 cents to 95 cents an hour in jobs behind bars, the cost of keeping in touch most likely falls to family members and friends.

In Idaho, a single page email costs just under 50 cents to send (you have to pay double if you want to attach a file).

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Imagine how little you would communicate electronically if it cost you that much – and you’re most likely not on a paltry prison wage.

No wonder some inmates took to hacking their JPay tablets to boost their credit balances.

The article from Wired is well worth a read, and might help us all understand the human cost of exploiting prisoners and their loved ones.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

One comment on “Making millions out of prisoners’ email”

  1. Michele

    True, it's seriously expensive.
    However, when you consider that every email has to be proof-read, then it's obvious that it's not free..
    The price however could have been more humane.

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