‘That’s how it is. What are you gonna do about it?’

We recently spoke with M—and Y—about GlobalTel (GTL), the phone service contracted by the jail, along with all the ways families are exploited by the ravenous companies who set up shop at the jail. We also talked about the tremendous creativity of their dad and all the detainees.

M: I work cleaning carpets and get paid every two weeks. And as soon as I get the money it comes here (DCDF). Pretty much all my money from my job goes to this place. Like take GTL. It is way too expensive for the service they give. So every two weeks I put $50 on, because it’s down to nothing in that time. And that’s just for phone calls for me, cause I get the best rate of everyone in my family.

Y: On my phone, the rate is $8 a call, and on my mom’s phone it’s $10 a call. I called GTL to ask how this can be. They tell me, ‘Ma’am the rate varies by number.’ These are all 919 area code phone numbers. He tells me ‘the rates vary, depending on what the digits in your number are.’ I’m like ‘that doesn’t even make any sense.’ So I ask him, ‘Well, my brother gets a much better rate. What do I have to change my number to to get a better per call rate?’  He doesn’t have an answer. He says, ‘it depends on how far away you are from the jail.’ I said, ‘I’m a mile from the jail right now.’

We have three different rates for our phones, and we all have the same service! (Verizon).

M: We all live in the same house! I put money on my mom’s phone one time, so she could talk to my dad when he could call. I put $30 on. He called three times that day, and there was nothing left on the account. When he called the next day, she wasn’t able to answer the phone.


Only Connect, at what cost?

GTL sucks bad. And it’s the only way to communicate with someone inside regularly, every day. I had calls a while back that were getting dropped in the middle of the call. At four minutes, the call kept dropping. So I called GTL and complained about this, and they told me, ‘we’ll look into it, and if we find out that it’s our fault, you’ll get a refund.’ I never heard back from them—but the dropped calls stopped.

The app takes a $2.50 service fee each time you add money to the phone. And to get the app it takes $9 the first time, to set it up. And that’s the best way to pay. If you call them and put money on, they take a bigger service fee, and if you do it by Western Union, they take a $10 service fee.

Y: When GTL first started, the calls were 15 minutes. But that was quickly changed back to 10 minutes. The other thing was, online and in their little brochure, it said that it would give the chance for inmates to text you—they can do this in Wake County, but not here. There has been no benefit, and the cost is outrageous.

M: It’s like they say: ‘That’s how it is. What are you gonna do about it?’ That’s what GTL says, that’s what Aramark says. That’s what the jail says.

At this point, I asked him about the plastic cross he had around his neck.

M: My dad made that for me. And he sent in an envelope with a letter. He made it out of the plastic packaging they get commissary food in. He threads them together. The gold in here, that’s from candy packaging. He makes them for other people and trades them for packets of soup or whatever. It’s funny, when my dad went in there, he couldn’t draw at all, he could barely write. And since he’s been in there he’s starting writing, writing cursive even, and he draws a lot, and he’s gotten pretty good. And he’s learned it all himself.

I tell him that Ashley C., Matthew McCain’s girlfriend, received an engagement ring from him in the mail. And that Inside-Outside Alliance received one a while back, too.

M: Oh, yeah, that wasn’t my dad because they weren’t on the same pod, unless it was traded between pods. But, a lot of guys make things like that in there. He’s made me rings, too. They are really creative in there. It’s amazing.My dad he just made a picture of a puppy, and it’s in cuffs, and it has a tear coming down it’s face. And it’s saying, ‘Help me Lord.’ It’s powerful.

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