Another Prison Phone Service Caught Recording Privileged Conversations And Passing Them On To Law Enforcement
from the criminals-on-both-sides-of-the-bars dept
A few years back, prison communications provider Securus was caught — via hacker-obtained data — recording privileged calls between inmates and their legal reps. Yes, ALL CALLS ARE RECORDED, as the sign says, but certain calls shouldn’t be. Securus did it en masse, hoovering up 14,000 privileged calls over an unspecified time period. The total could be much higher than that. The data obtained only covered part of Securus’ massive network, with 12,000 privileged calls alone in this data dump coming from a single state.
Now, another prison phone company has been caught recording privileged conversations and turning them over to law enforcement.
An Orange County Sheriff’s Department employee revealed this week during a court hearing that the department improperly recorded more than 1,000 privileged phone calls between county jail inmates and their attorneys over a three-year period.
An employee with Global Tel Link Corp., a contractor that oversees the jail phone system, wrote in a July 27 letter to Sheriff Sandra Hutchens — obtained by the Daily Pilot on Thursday — that an update in the company’s system in January 2015 caused “a technical error” that led to 1,079 such phone calls being recorded, in violation of state law.”
In violation of state law. It violates a lot of things, not just state law. But that’s OK, state law enforcement was there to make sure laws were enforced.
Senior Deputy District Atty. Cynthia Nichols, the prosecutor in Waring’s case, became aware of the issue during Boston’s testimony Monday in Orange County Superior Court.
Nichols asked him during the hearing whether the Sheriff’s Department has made any effort to contact the district attorney or defense attorneys whose phone numbers and client communications were compromised.
“Not to my knowledge,” [director of inmate services Greg] Boston responded.
The law was broken and no one on the law enforcement side did anything to fix it. That split-second decision made during an rapidly-evolving situation (or whatever) may come back to haunt Boston and his Sheriff’s department cohorts. In this mess of 1,000 calls hang 58 serious criminal cases, running the gamut from gang-related charges to the attempted murder prosecution of the offspring of a reality TV star.
The “technical error” was exposed during the trial of Joshua Waring, the son of a star of “Real Housewives of Orange County.” Inmate services director Greg Boston testified during this case, exposing Global Tel Link’s screwup and the apparent partaking of ill-gotten goods by local law enforcement.
The Orange Court Sheriff’s Department claims it instructed the service provider to fix the problem when it discovered it had access to privileged recordings. But that hardly explains how Global Tel Link managed to record 1,000 calls it never should have recorded before someone on either end actually noticed the issue. According to Waring’s attorney, the “technical error” went unaddressed for three years, suggesting the OCSD didn’t mind having access to privileged conversations, even when it knew the recordings were illegal under state law.
And the official statement from the OCSD covers only part of the problem. Telling the provider to stop intercepting privileged calls is one thing. Deciding to keep this information to itself, rather than pass it on to affected legal reps and the DA’s office, isn’t nearly so noble or proactive.