Ill. county being sued over jail tablet contract
Securus Technologies, Inc., the jail's soon-to-be-former telecommunications provider, is seeking to have the new contract voided
By Chris Green
Rockford Register Star, Ill.
Winnebago County Jail Superintendent Bob Redmond anticipates putting tablets in the hands of all jail inmates come Nov. 9.
Securus Technologies, Inc., the Winnebago County Jail's soon-to-be former telecommunications provider, said not so fast.
Securus is seeking to have a contract between the county and its new telecommunications provider, Global Tel Link, voided.
A suit was filed Tuesday in Winnebago County Court.
Listed are two plaintiffs, John Nelson, a local attorney who lost to Frank Haney in the November election for County Board chairman, and Securus Technologies, a U.S. prison technology company based in Dallas, Texas.
The suit alleges GTL submitted a fraudulent proposal by failing to reveal they are the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Mississippi Attorney General. The Mississippi suit implicates GTL in a bribery and kickback scheme in its contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
In addition to voiding the contract, Nelson and Securus want "... the county to conduct a new (request for proposal) process, and award plaintiffs their attorneys' fees, cost, pre-judgement and post-judgement interests, and any such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper."
The plaintiffs in the suit also are questioning the bidding process.
"Every indication was that the Sheriff's Department ran a thorough, honest, and competitive process," Haney said.
Dave Kurlinkus, chief of staff for the State's Attorney's Office Civil Bureau, said, "We weren't involved in the bid procedure. We were involved in reviewing the contract itself after the awarding of the bid."
In August, the County Board voted 16-2 to enter into a contract with GTL. The contract is for one year with four renewable years.
GTL has made a name for itself in the corrections industry by providing tablets with phone capabilities to jails free of charge. The tablets, which come preloaded with some programming, such as GED course work and the law library, will replace the limited number of telephones in the jail.
The tablets are touted by GTL as a way to reduce jailhouse fights over phone time. GTL profits by allowing inmates to purchase jail-approved content, such as books, music and movies.
Inmates also benefit by paying a reduced rate. Instead of 55 cents a minute for local calls and 21 cents a minute for interstate calls, they will be charged 27.5 cents per minute, of which 23 cents will be given to the county.
The county benefits by receiving a yearly $34,000 signing bonus and a guaranteed minimum $870,000 in annual revenue.
(c)2017 Rockford Register Star, Ill.
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