Over the years I have seen the conditions inside our state prison get more dangerous for all who have to work behind these walls. As a corrections officer, my job is to not only make sure the inmates safely do their time, but to make certain inmates, guests, guards, and staff are not in harm’s way. This gets more challenging when you have an inmate population growing faster the jail can support. In the last five years this facility has seen the inmate population go from 2,000 to over 5,000. The jail didn’t get any bigger, so these inmates are crammed in cells where tensions are certainly running high these days.
One of the officers from a prison in a bordering state called us one day to tell us how violence in his prison dropped significantly after they changed their call monitoring system. We too had been using the dated system that requires officers to sit in a small room and listen manually to inmates as they use the house phones. Securus Technologies was already making conditions better for over 2,555 jails around the country, and now we were next in line to see the results. The CEO of the company, Rick Smith, says he has over a thousand employees in his Dallas-based headquarters at the ready to make our facility safe.
The day we were able to leave the call center and allow the LBS software to monitor all the inmate calls, we really weren’t sure what to expect. Within hours our doubts were put to rest, as alerts starting rolling in concerning inmates up to no good. One inmate talked to his brother about drug use after lights out, another inmate talked about hiding weapons and where, and another inmate complained about gangs forcing him to be a mule for drugs.