Why My Office Refused to Register DOC Internet Services Contract: Lander

Why My Office Refused to Register DOC Internet Services Contract: Lander

By Forum Staff

City Comptroller Brad Lander on Wednesday issued a letter to New Yorkers explaining why his office has refused to register a contract between the Department of Correction (DOC) and a for-profit company called Securus Technologies.

“It’s not up to us to decide whether a contract is a good idea, but it is our responsibility to make sure that City agencies follow procurement rules,” Lander said.

“The contract would essentially award Securus a monopoly to sell internet services to people incarcerated in New York City’s jails.

“DOC did not bother to get bids for the contract, even though bidding should have been required. Why not? Because Securus told them they were the only company that could provide the service. That’s not true, but DOC simply took Securus’ word for it.

Photo Courtesy of NYC DOC City Correction Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie.

Photo Courtesy of NYC DOC
City Correction Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie.

“And that’s not all: DOC’s sole-source contract provides Securus with discretion to increase prices every year without approval from DOC or anyone else. That means the company could jack up prices on their services every year, squeezing out a profit from incarcerated people with no other options.

“What’s more, Securus has a history of data privacy violations. In 2021, the company accidentally allowed more than 1,500 confidential phone calls between detainees and their lawyers to be wrongly recorded by the Correction Department.

“From this dubious contract with Securus, to monthly jails statistics indicating the need for a federal receivership on Riker’s Island, it’s clear that stronger management is needed at the Department of Correction to address the humanitarian crisis in New York City jails.

“Another thing that isn’t helping: The Adams administration’s intention to cut $17 million from vital re-entry and alternatives-to-incarceration programs that keep New Yorkers safe. Re-entry and ATI programs don’t just increase community safety and reduce the jail population, they save taxpayer dollars – and are critical to the successful closing of Rikers Island.

“These programs, which provide a range of services including mentoring, cognitive behavioral therapy, and job readiness training, significantly decrease re-arrest rates for program participants. For example, the 2-year recidivism rate of graduates from the ATI/Reentry Coalition programs is below 20 percent, less than half the 42 percent rate for those released from incarceration without access to programming.

“Here’s what I’m proposing: Less money to for-profit prison service companies through no-bid, sole-source, monopoly-granting contracts – and more money for programs that are proven to keep New Yorkers safe, reduce recidivism, and get us back on track to closing Rikers Island,” Lander concluded.


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