Customers can’t be more “locked in” to a purchase than this. The inmates at the Butler County Jail generated a $352,000 profit for jail services and the county’s general fund:
“Last year, prepaid telephone cards sold to inmates and loved ones along with fees for outgoing collect calls generated $352,000 for the general fund, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
Fees generated help keep costs down to operate the jail and are partly used for other state-required purchases, county officials said.”
“The county’s cut of the revenue is 50 to 60 percent depending on the type of purchase, with no upkeep costs, said Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.
“That is a benefit all the way around,” Dwyer said.
Making a phone call from jail may be more expensive than using the phone in a hotel room, but the money is used to help inmate services purchase luxuries for the inmates:
More than $62,000 in revenue from the prepaid calling cards purchased through the jail commissary in 2010 was returned for other inmate services, which is required by law.
The money is used to purchase items to benefit inmates that go beyond the state required basics.
“Books, basketballs, games, television all come from the commissary fund,” said Dwyer, noting keeping inmates occupied with less time to get into mischief is a benefit to everyone.
Several options are available to inmates to make phone calls. Collect calls can be made from the jail pods at a cost of $2.75 to connect and 25 cents a minute for local calls and 50 cents per minute for long distance. Collect calls can not be made to cellphones, so prepaid cards for $10 or $20 can be purchased by the inmate from the commissary or a loved one can purchase a phone card in the sheriff’s office lobby and earmark it for the inmate.”
Not discussed in this article are other prepaid cards used by prisons, including cards used to hold funds for cafeterias and vending machines, as well as open-loop prepaid cards given to prisoners upon release. Prison release cards had $221 million deposited on them in 2009, and the most recent Mercator Advisory Group 2010 benchmark suggests this segment will see more growth in 2010.