You Have a New Message: Secure Texting in Jails and Prisons

By: Edovo Feb 04, 2019

 

With secure text messaging, incarcerated individuals can send affordable and convenient messages to their friends and families.

 

Texting surpasses all other communication methods for its simplicity, its efficiency, and of course the limitless images and emojis we’ve come to know and love. Over 80% of Americans use text messaging to contact their friends and family, and now a unique group of Americans are able to finally participate: the incarcerated. Through tablet technology and secure messaging applications, incarcerated now have access to affordable and convenient means for keeping those behind bars in constant communication with support groups on the outside.

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Why Staying Connected Matters

 

For incarcerated populations, being able to communicate with support groups is key in decreasing an individual’s chances of returning to prison. Maintaining positive relationships with friends and families offers people in prison positive reinforcement in their educational, vocational, and rehabilitative goals, and it lays the foundation for betters outcomes after their release, like stable housing and employment opportunities. Though phone calls have traditionally been the most widely-used communication service among jail facilities, the rise of text messaging is now creating a larger impact among this unique community—much like it has with the general population.

 

By giving incarcerated individuals the opportunity to send and receive secure text messages to their friends and families, they’re being offered improved opportunities to prepare for a more productive re-entry after their sentences.

 

So why texting? If phone calls are the number one form of communication in the prison system, is there really a need for alternative forms of contact? The answer is a simple YES. After decades of the prison and jail phone industry profiting off of family-funded phone calls, text messaging in prisons and jails can be a more affordable means of staying connected. Instead of charging more than $5 for a 15-minute phone call, subscription text messaging services on mobile tablets can offer a cheaper alternative tailored to each individuals communication needs. Just like the general population pays for fixed or unlimited monthly messaging plans, sponsors of incarcerated individuals can do the same, helping those behind bars to avoid the crowded lines for facility phones and ensuring they have continuous, affordable access to tablet messaging. For friends and family, there’s no app to install - messages are securely transferred directly from the incarcerated user’s tablet to the contact’s personal phone.

 

One of the key benefits to secure messaging is that messages can be relayed all day; friends and families don’t have to plan out their phone calls. It can bring them solace knowing they'll be able to reach out to their incarcerated loved ones at any time, and those in prison will be able to see those messages waiting for them as soon as they log in to their tablets. Secure text messaging also helps to minimize noise levels and disruption within pods and day-rooms, as loud phone conversations are replaced by silent text messaging.

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Improved Security and Communication Monitoring

 

Implementing secure messaging within jails and prisons not only provides dramatic benefits to the incarcerated and the community, it can also have a significant impact for correctional staff and facility security. Corrections grade text message offerings can allow staff full oversight and control of the messaging system, providing previously unavailable access to actionable intelligence. Keyword flagging and message approvals can also help prevent unwanted messages from being transmitted, before they are even sent. Traditional phone calling requires active monitoring and lengthy call audio reviews by correctional staff. Secure messaging applications have the ability to dramatically reduce staff workload, allowing review based on keyword search and quick skimming. In many ways secure messaging can be safer and more efficient than traditional communication methods, but not all secure messaging applications are the same.

 

Edovo Messenger is built directly into the Edovo platform, meaning there’s no additional steps or logins for administrative staff. All text in both directions is tracked in the Edovo Insight tool and staff can block connections between inmates and people outside the jail if communication is happening that isn’t approved of. Contact with a phone number can be allowed and denied on an individual basis. Non-compliant messages can be blocked and hidden from an inmate as necessary. Additionally, any attempted contact by an unauthorized phone to the inmate is logged.

 

Implementing Secure Messaging in Correctional Facilities

 

Edovo has designed a process for messaging an incarcerated loved one that is hassle-free and user-friendly. Edovo’s messaging service allows the incarcerated user to initiate the conversation, as opposed to other communication services like video visits that require an outside party to schedule the interaction; those who are incarcerated will be able to take advantage of this service much more often, giving them the advantage to contact loved ones on their own time. Once the user has logged into the tablet, they can add a number of friends and family members to his/her contact list via a working mobile phone number. Those on the receiving end will receive a text message notifying them someone from a specific facility is attempting to contact them. After accepting (or blocking, as that option will also be available), the friends and families can create an account and select from a range of messagings plans; then, the messaging begins. That’s it.

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So far, Edovo has witnessed tremendous impact on detainees with Edovo Messenger. After launching our messaging application, most incarcerated users waste no time creating accounts and inviting their contacts to chat. Communication volume within facilities tends to increase dramatically and rapidly, helping to keep incarcerated individuals connected to their support systems and promoting positive interactions. Gaining additional access to communication allows them to share immediate news of all of life’s milestones, whether it be a child graduating or a loved one’s birthday party. Facility staff have seen tremendous benefit as well, including more comprehensive communication monitoring and easier message review and analysis.

 

Edovo is still the greatest resource that's ever become available for prisoners who seek to rehabilitate and transform themselves into productive law-abiding citizens who can [overcome] recidivism upon their reentry into society after incarceration! As I have said many times before, thank everyone at Edovo who made this possible for prisoners like myself!— Incarcerated User from Baraga, MI

 

Being held in captivity with a lack of access to positive role models only decreases a person’s chance of having a successful re-entry back into society. According to a study by the National Institute of Justice, within five years of their release, more than 75 percent of released incarcerated individuals were rearrested. Unlike traditional telecommunications vendors in the past, Edovo delivers a low-cost approach to communication in order to remove barriers between inmates and loved ones. Improved communication access and affordability encourages them to communicate more often, keeping the people who care most in constant contact.

 

Edovo’s goal is to be a continuously available resource for improving the lives of those affected by incarceration, not only by delivering access to as many communication services as possible but by proudly serving as a company genuinely interested in incarcerated rehabilitation and their family’s financial well-being.

 

To learn more about bringing Edovo’s Messenger application and the entire educational Edovo suite to your facility, go to https://www.edovo.com/messenger