The Truth about Prison Phone Calls

Your inmate needs to stay connected to friends and family. While lots of information can be shared on the phone, precautions must be taken so that everyone involved can avoid having future problems.

Phone Calls are Recorded

If your inmate wants to discuss the case with you by phone, use extreme caution going forward. The only calls that are not recorded from a prison are calls between the inmate and his or her attorney. This means that every word the two of you say will be recorded and easily retrieved by authorities.

Inmates have No Right to Privacy

Some people believe that to state “Anything in this conversation is private and cannot be used against either party on the phone” protects you both. It is not true. An inmate has no legal right to privacy on a phone call. Anything that is said by either of you can be used against either of you.

You need to Protect Yourself

In addition to authorities having the right to use anything in a phone call against the inmate, they can also bring charges against you, if applicable. For example, you tell the inmate about a crime that you or a family member committed or you admit to being part of the inmate’s current charges, and you could find yourself charged and the recorded call used as evidence.

Not all Calls are listened to

While every single call is recorded, they are not typically listened to. Some prisons use a software program that scans all calls for key buzzwords. Other facilities have people who pull random calls for listening. Once a call is flagged, it is not unusual for authorities to pull all phone calls made by that inmate for the past few months and listen to each one of them.

Final thoughts: It can be frustrating not to discuss cases with your inmate, but doing so could put the case at risk. Have your inmate discuss the case with his or her attorney and talk about other things with you.

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.