Unfortunately, sometimes our loved ones or close friends got into correctional facilities. If this happens to you, then you know how difficult it can be to stay in contact. Especially, when hearing the notice that your communication will be recorded.
Communications between you and your loved one can potentially be used by the police as evidence in a criminal prosecution. How not to make things worse and avoid self-incrimination?
Nearly all prisons record and monitor inmate phone calls. Just like checking letters, anything coming into and going out of the prison is recorded and inspected. Their reason is for security as someone may be planning an escape or a drug delivery etc. Even visiting rooms have recording devices (video and sound).
This practice of monitoring and recording your phone calls with the inmate is generally accepted as legal. Prison staff always listens to all samples of inmates’ calls! In particular cases, they are monitoring all of the communications of a certain inmate whom they suspect of attempting to conduct business outside the prison via the telephone.
The Supreme Court and various lower courts have recognized that prison inmates’ reasonable expectations of privacy are lower than they would be outside prison walls. Additionally, the government has a compelling interest in ensuring the security of its prisons, and surveillance is generally accepted as one tool the government can use to ensure that security.
Anything that an inmate says to the person on the other end of the line can be used against him or her, in any way within the boundaries of the law.
Believe it or not, it is common for inmates to discuss their pending case, talk about other crimes they were involved in, name and identify other participants and possible witnesses, and much more. For the Prosecutors and Detectives listening on the line, these phone calls often break a case wide open and seal the inmate’s fate.
Most facilities that record inmate’s calls or visitations play a preliminarily recorded message informing the inmate that their call or visitation will be recorded. Otherwise, you will hear the typical “click” which means that supervisor has joined your conversation. Another “click” will tell you that supervisor is offline, but it doesn’t mean that your call is not recorded anymore!
The use of taped calls against inmates has become so prevalent that some defense lawyers put a warning on their websites: “DO NOT say anything at all that you do not want to hear played back to the Judge in the courtroom at your trial.”
When a 3rd party (loved one or friend) is involved in the conversation, it opens the possibility that such calls are no longer subject to the attorney-client privilege from State discovery. As we mentioned, calls to anyone other than the inmate’s attorney will be monitored and recorded. It is surprising how much is said during these calls, even after the very clear recording lets everyone on the call know that the call is being recorded.
Another danger while making phone calls from the prison or jail is that the “phone bank” or wall of phones are in an open area where other inmates can congregate and easily eavesdrop on the conversation.
One of the main reasons for listening in on other inmate’s calls is to be able to provide the State with important information to get their charges reduced or their sentences lessened. One can never underestimate what an incarcerated man or woman will do to regain his or her freedom.
We understand the importance of calls from those incarcerated to family members and loved-ones. They can serve as a crucial “lifeline” to someone behind bars and the “outside world.” In some cases, they may even be the one thing allowing an inmate to hold on while their case moves forward.
However, you should keep in mind that anything inmate says from their facility can be used against them. To close friends and family members who are reading this, you can do a lot to keep your loved one from harming him or herself as a result of something they said.
Still, it is important to be aware of the potential “danger zones” that exist in the system, and how best to avoid falling victim to them.
Here, we have discussed the dangers of the inmate phone system, and how best to maintain contact with your loved one while not making his legal situation any worse. By following these suggestions, you will go a long way towards avoiding the pitfalls that those without this information easily fall victim to.