JPay, Sock Puppets and Our Reduction to Slavery

At the end of August, ManCI administrators posted a notice related to a change in money order transfer procedures to be implemented here at the prison. By the old procedure, anyone could send  money orders to prisoners directly at the prison and  those funds would be posted to the prisoner’s account by the cashier’s office. There also existed electronic transfer options for a service fee, but money orders could be sent directly without any fee at all. By the new procedure, only approved visitors may send funds to prisoners and rather than sending them to the prisoner directly, the funds are sent to JPay, a company in Hollywood, Florida– the prescription-pill addiction capital of the world. With each transaction, approved visitors must send a copy of their photo identification and a portion of the money order they send is kept by JPay as a “service fee,” otherwise known as a tax.

As I’ve already written, all of this struck me as patently illegal, as none of my visitors consented to having the private information they turned over to the State for visiting purposes suddenly compiled into a database and turned over to a company hiring an inordinate number of pill addicts who can upload information and sell it to identity pirates in order to support their pill habits.

Bewildered that the prison system would betray the trust of 750,000 prisoner-visitors, I sent kite communications to a number of ManCI administrators, asking specific questions about this money-transfer boondoggle. This is what I wrote:

Sir or Madam:

These are questions I need answered before I get back to my attorney:
1. When did my visitors consent to having JPay get access to their private information,  which was given to the ODRC only for purposes of getting on my visiting list?
2. What kind of electronic security does JPay have to make sure the sensitive information of 750,000 visitors isn’t hacked for identity theft?
3. Since data entry employees for JPay can access a database to confirm visitor status, what protocols prevent those workers from stealing the identities of 750,000 visitors who never consented to their information being accessed by JPay in the first place?
4.  What statute provides for a tax to be levied upon prisoner visitors when they transfer funds to prisoners?
5. When did the Ohio Assembly approve this tax?
My attorney would like to arrange a conference call with the custodian of records to insure that my visitors’ sensitive information is not transferred, transmitted, nor accessed by JPay or any other private company. Who should my attorney contact?
Thank you.

Note, I opened and closed the kites with references to legal counsel and made clear that my concern was to address the legalities and privacy concerns of my visitors. You would think prison administrators, as officials in the criminal justice process, would want to ensure the legalities of their procedures. Because their job is to instill a respect for the law in all of their wayward captives, they would certainly want to make sure their own conduct is well beyond reproach, right?

Well, no.

Ms. Wainwright is the Deputy Warden of Special Services. Among her duties, she’s the supervisor of Ms. Allen, the Unit Management Administrator. Deputy Warden Wainwright did not answer a single one of my questions. She wrote, “All the information we have re: JPay is posted by Ms. Allen. She is sending all updates. Refer to those. This is a statewide initiative.”

That’s all she said.

So, when did visitors consent to having private information handed over to pill-poppers in Florida? When did the legislature approve of this tax? What stops pill-poppers from selling my elderly parents’ identities and trashing their credit? No idea.

I sent an identical kite to Sharon Berry, the Institutional Inspector, the zealous advocate who protects us captives from the abuses of our captors. She didn’t answer any of my questions. She referred me to Ms. Allen, the Unit Management Administrator.

Fortunately, I had already sent an identical kite to Ms. Allen. I received her kite back, stapled to the kite I had sent to the Deputy Warden of Operations. Their joint response was, “Please direct your questions to JPay for guidance.” They answered none of my questions.

No shit. Ms. Allen really told me to direct my questions to JPay. Think of the implications: ‘Mr. Swain, you’re ostensibly in the custody of the alleged State of Ohio, but our authority is now out-sourced to our corporate masters whose profit margins dictate government policies. They make the rules. Please consult the corporate dictators who give us our marching orders.’

That’s pretty fucking disturbing.

How long is it before ODRC director Gary Mohr moves ODRC Central Office from Columbus, Ohio to Hollywood, Florida so he can be useful to his corporate golf buddies, help them count their money between sniffing lines in the clubhouse, and maybe give them hand-jobs over drinks? How long before John Kasich joins him?

Like I said, pretty fucking disturbing. I’m in the custody of corporations who have their hands up the asses of prison officials, making them walk and talk like they’re real humans. Prison officials are now sock-puppets on the hands of corporations.

The last of the kites I sent to Warden Terry Tibbals. He is, after all, in charge of the prison. At least, by all appearances. Since he is the warden, you’d expect him to be concerned about the legality of this new policy. You’d expect him to answer all of my questions. His answer? “Contact: Steven Young, Legal Counsel, 770 W Broad St., Cols. Ohio 43222.”

I’m not making this up. I asked specific questions about the legality of this dubious proceedure that profits corporations at the expense of Ohioans and I got the John Gotti response from the warden: I have no comment; ask my attorney.

This too is quite revealing. It lets us know that when these administrative sock puppets fail at union busting, they out-source Ohio jobs to corporate masters out-of-state, whether it’s legal or not, whether it violates the privacy rights of Ohio citizens or not, whether it leads to identity theft of 750,000 Ohioans or not. It’s all done without the consent of tax-payers, who end up footing the bill. Oh, yeah– when the lawsuits happen, JPay won’t have to hire counsel. Oh, no. Steve Young, ODRC counsel, will head the dream-team for an out-of-state corporation, at the expense of the very Ohioans whose jobs were down-sized so Gary Mohr’s coke-snorting golf friends could turn Ohio prisoners into a cash cow.

Yeah, I know. You probably think this is only about prisoners and how funds get to us, and nobody cares about prisoners. But it isn’t. This is about a system-wide approach that Naomi Klein documented in her book The Shock Doctrine where government, reduced to sock puppets for the corporate elite, hollow out government and reduce the majority of us to slaves while those who control the “commanding heights” of the economy end up with all the cash. It’s about our so-called “public” officials bending over so the wealthy elite can cram a fist in their asses, voluntarily becoming sock-puppets for the Enrons and Halliburtons and Banks of America and JPays and AccessSecurePaks and Global Tel*Links. You can’t stop it by voting the bums out because the bums are just disposable gloves worn on the hands of our true enemies.