CDCR, GTL, JPay expand communication access

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March 30, 2020

Message from CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz

As CDCR and CCHCS work around the clock to combat COVID-19, we have asked those in our care to make great sacrifices. We have stopped programs, we have limited movement, and we are no longer allowing volunteers and program providers to come into our institutions. We value these positive rehabilitative programs, as they provide a sense of normality and humanity inside while giving incarcerated people opportunities for successful returns home. Suspending programs was not a decision made lightly – it was done to protect the people who live and work in our institutions.

The families of incarcerated people have not gone untouched in these decisions. We know the impact a support system has on an incarcerated person’s success is immeasurable. We have asked great sacrifices of the families of incarcerated people by making the decision to suspend visits for the same reason – to protect you, your loved ones, and our staff. People with loved ones inside are unable to see one another face to face, which adds worry and stress on top of the worry and stress that comes with having a loved one inside, especially during these unprecedented times in our society.

With that in mind, I have asked our partners to brainstorm ways to increase opportunities for engagement between the incarcerated populations and their support systems. Two of our partners, Global Tel Link (GTL) and JPay, have answered the call. Beginning March 31st, CDCR will provide three full days of free phone calls for incarcerated people each week. The free calls will be available from 12 am to 11:59 pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays through the end of April 2020. GTL previously offered two days of free calls, March 19 and 26. March 19 provided more than 137,000 calls and more than 1.3 million minutes of phone time. March 26 provided over 146,000 calls for more than 1.4 million minutes in a single day.  Both days were roughly double the call volume for an average day – the value of which is not measured in dollars and cents, but in compassion, strengthened relationships, and love.

CDCR’s electronic messaging provider, JPay, is now offering reduced-price emails to registered users at its current pilot sites: High Desert State Prison, Kern Valley State Prison, California Institution for Women, Central California Women’s Facility, and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility. Free emails will be available for those who are unable to pay. Details will be provided to the incarcerated population at the institutions.

I am grateful to GTL and JPay for understanding how vitally important it is for families and friends to stay connected. While the health and safety of all who live and work in our prisons is our consistent priority, emotional well-being is also our priority. These efforts will go a long way toward easing minds and keeping families in touch. Your continued partnership is valuable and appreciated.

As we continue to make changes, we thank you for your patience. We will do our best to keep you informed and connected. You can stay up to date on our efforts at www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19.

With gratitude and respect,

RALPH M. DIAZ

Secretary, CDCR