Hernandez family lawsuit shows how Securus can prevent prison suicides
Securus Technologies provides solutions that can prevent crime, but the firm may also be able to prevent another tragedy that is known to happen in prisons. The company can find vulnerable inmates who might be tempted to commit suicide. The case of former New England Patriot’s player Aaron Hernandez brought a suit against the company. Hernandez was facing murder charges, and he committed suicide while in prison. The family of the former football player had someone else use his account before his death. The family believes that recordings of this and other calls may have prevented Hernandez’s ultimate suicide, according to the Boston Herald
The lawsuit against Securus Technologies contends that prisoners have no expectation of privacy while they are making calls from a correctional facility. This much, at least is true. Securus and other inmate telecommunications forms routine record inmate conversations. Corrections officers routinely scan these conversations for any sign of criminal activity. At the moment, the company and its competitors do not scan for signs of possible suicidal ideation.
The Hernandez family lawsuit may cause the inmate communications companies and many prisons to change their policies and start scanning for such behavior. The equipment to record and the staff to monitor these conversations are already in place. The only additional administrative costs incurred would be those costs incurred while trying to prevent an inmate from harming himself.
Jails and prisons around the country have been forced to serve as emergency mental health care facilities, and it is a role they are ill-equipped to handle. Law enforcement personnel and corrections officers do not receive extensive mental illness training and often cannot distinguish between a mentally ill inmate and a violent offender. The inability to distinguish between someone who is mentally ill and someone who is a violent offender has led to a number of unfortunate deaths.