Securus Technologies, prison phone profiteer and major player in electronic monitoring services, has acquired yet another firm-GovPayNet. With operations in 35 states GovPayNet processes local government payments-court costs, fines and, yes, payments for electronic monitoring. GovPayNet originally was set up in the 1990s by a local sheriff as a way to facilitate payment of cash bail via credit card. The company apparently remains vested in the cash bail industry. With Securus taking over, we can likely expect a more rigorous opposition to the movement to end cash bail, especially given the recalcitrance of Securus in accepting FCC-mandated reductions in prison phone rates.
At minimum, with Securus entering this market we can expect to see rising financing charges for EM and other court services as well as the interlinking of penalties for debts in different quarters. For example, a person who owes money for court costs may find higher penalty rates applied to overdue EM payments. There is also the possibility that failure to pay court costs could result in application of EM or extension of EM as a penalty. While this is just speculation, the history of greed and overcharging that has characterized Securus operations in regard to prison phones, makes it difficult not to expect negative outcomes for vulnerable “consumers” in the criminal legal system.