Published on: Monday, December 13, 2021

Lawyers say their conversations with incarcerated people are being recorded and analyzed by private companies in at least nine US states (article available here).

While such communications are ostensibly protected from surveillance under the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution and the Federal Wiretap Act, there had been little trust that prison telecommunications vendor Securus Technologies was properly distinguishing between personal calls—which incarcerated people are told are monitored—and private calls with attorneys. 

In a statement to the Daily News, Securus claimed the issue was not widespread and that wrongfully recorded calls were prefaced with an automated message warning that the call was being recorded. Several defense attorneys said they weren’t aware the calls were recorded, however.

In at least seven other states, according to lawsuits that have been filed in California, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin. Global Tel Link (GTL), another major prison telecommunications vendor, allegedly recorded phone calls with attorneys in Florida, California, and Maine. In some cases, it was discovered that prosecutors had listened to privileged communications.

Originally justified as a way of maintaining security within prisons and jails, personal call recordings are now frequently used by prosecutors to build cases. Law enforcement also hasn’t shown much proof that recording calls has improved safety behind bars.