Facts about GTL and the prison phone industry

David Weissman
York Dispatch
  • Global Tel Link, or GTL, is the largest of a handful of prison telecommunications companies and holds the majority of contracts with correctional facilities across the U.S. 
  • In order to pay for phone calls from the prison, prisoners' family members can prepay by using GTL's website or app, which often charges deposit fees, or accept a collect call, which is often more expensive per minute than pre-paid.
  • GTL is facing numerous lawsuits, including a class-action suit in Arkansas alleging extortion of a "captive market." The company also recently settled for $2.5 million for its alleged involvement in a bribery case against former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps.
  • In addition to phone services, GTL also provides correctional facilities with video messaging (including York County Prison) and tablets (York County Prison is considering).
  • According to The New York Times, the prison phone system was a $1.2 billion-per-year industry as of 2015.
  • The Federal Communications Commission released an analysis in 2013 showing that the exorbitant fees for prison phone calls led to commissions that subsidized, in some cases, prison guard's salaries and state general revenue funds.

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