Jailbird Rock

Wow!  I got another enthusiastic email from JPay, whose slogan is, “Making it Easier.”  I feel my blood pressure rise as I read that.  Nothing—nothing—makes having a loved in in prison easier.  And to the contrary, being ripped off in order to communicate with them adds financial strain on top of the shame, worry, anger, disappointment, and all the other negative emotions.

I will just repeat here what I wrote early on in this blog.  When people said, “At least you know where he is, and that he’s got a roof over his head and three meals so you don’t have to worry about him,” my response was, “That’s true.  There have been months and years when I didn’t know where Vince was and I worried myself sick imagining he was dead in a cornfield.

It was always that cornfield.  Maybe, as a city person, it was my worst-case scenario.  If I were going to be found dead, I would hope it was in my own home, fully dressed with my makeup on, after I had taken the empty wine bottles out to the recycling bins.  I shudder at the image of being found dead in a cornfield, where in my imagination it is always winter and crows are circling overhead.  Ugh.

All you have to do is watch the Prison Rape Elimination Act video to know that there is still plenty to worry about if your kid is in prison.

Back to JPay.  Here’s what they say about video visits:

There’s nothing quite like seeing your loved one in person. Visiting them at their correctional facility, however, can often be difficult; the prison or jail may be far away, and the security procedures can be invasive. Sometimes there’s just no way to be there in person.

“When physical visits are impossible or inconvenient, JPay’s Video Visitation lets you talk face-to face with your incarcerated friend or relative from the comfort of your own home. When you can’t be there, this is the next best thing.”

Wow, it almost brings a tear to my eye, how compassionate they are and how they want to help!  It’s almost like they know I was ejected from Moose Lake and banned from visiting my son for six months.

So, even though Vince is no longer incarcerated, I’ll share with you all the marvelous ways that JPay helps families stay in touch with incarcerated loved ones.

You could send them money so they can buy ramen and instant coffee—that’s only $9.95 per $100.  You could buy one short email for $2.00.  Or how about a first-class stamp?  JPay charges 40 cents to buy a 49-cent stamp.  That’s not a 9-cent discount, that’s 89 cents total for one stamp.

Finally, you could pay $9.95 for a 30-minute video visit.

This is new information to me; when I visited Vince the last time before he was released they were just rolling out this option and the rumor was that it would cost $99—not $9.95.  So, my apologies to JPay—$9.95 is actually a bargain compared to taking the day off work and driving for four hours to make a physical visit.

But on this day, JPay was emailing me to say I could fund a media account with no fees for this one day.  I could not figure out what a media account was; maybe it’s not available at the facility from which Vince was released.  Again, they show hip, attractive, young people having a great time … listening to tunes, I guess.

And at the very bottom are Apple AppStore and Google Play buttons—are these corporate giants getting in on the easy cash to made off of prison families?

1 thought on “Jailbird Rock

  1. kappe004

    This is capitalism at work. Capitalism, the god of the USA (and the GOP). Capitalism, that will be reined in through rational self interest and competition.(I’m drawing a parallel between capitalism and free market theory.) Perhaps JPay is the result of rational self interest but it needs competition to bring down prices. I think their self interest is immoral in that it takes advantage of people whose family are in prison, most of whom are low income, adding yet another burden to their stressful lives. The burden is not only financial but emotional and psychological.



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