Crossposted from:

Across the United States, hundreds of jails have eliminated in-person family visits over the last decade. Why has this happened? The answer highlights a profound flaw in how decisions too often get made in our legal system: for-profit jail telecom companies realized that they could earn more profit from phone and video calls if jails eliminated free in-person visits for families. So the companies offered sheriffs and county jails across the country a deal: if you eliminate family visits, we’ll give you a cut of the increased profits from the larger number of calls. This led to a wave across the country, as local jails sought to supplement their budgets with hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from some of the poorest families in our society.