|FTC TSR Forum,
in below after my signature block is the information regarding
prison-based telemarketing that I distributed on Friday June 7, 2002. I
want to make sure that this gets included in the comments. It does not
include the letter from then Governor George Bush to April Jordan. I have
also attached the information as a Word Perfect 8 file.
I also want to relay something that was forwarded to me
today, June 12,
2002, in the verbiage of the original writer:
"The local Colorado TV stations are running little
message banners on them
that say residents near the big Hayman fire SW of Denver should be
prepared for reverse 911 calls (meaning the police will call you with a
prerecorded message to tell you to evacuate).
Then the TV banner message says that telephone subscribers
should be sure
to turn off call blocking.
So there you have it. An example of how you can lose
your life simply
trying to protect yourself from telemarketers."
Thank you again for the opportunity for input, and for the
invitation to be
part of the panel on June 7. I hope my input was useful for the FTC.
Michael C. Worsham, Esq.
NOTE: Nothing in this message should be construed as legal advice or the
creation of an attorney-client relationship.
PRISON-BASED TELEMARKETING: *Adding Insult to Injury*
This short paper points out why the FTC should eliminate all
- Job-training to reduce prisoner recidivism is an admirable
but even without considering the issue of prisoner access to personal information,
prison-based telemarketing defeats the idea of prison sentences to isolate
incarcerated criminals from society. PBT not only requires interaction of
criminals with private citizens, but also requires that interaction to occur in their
private residence. Most
objectionable of all, is that outbound telemarketing calls an uninvited and unwanted
interaction, per se.
- Personal information has been abused in PBT programs many
April Jordan*s daughter was solicited by a prisoner calling from Utah. The prisoner
later sold personal information he coaxed out of the daughter to another prisoner who
it to write the daughter a letter. Her family is still concerned about what
happen when these prisoners are eventually released. This and a similar
lead Utah to terminate its PBT program on August 31, 2000. The Washington state
prison telemarketing operation was also shut down for similar abuses.
- President Bush Opposes Prisoner Access to Personal
As Governor of Texas, George Bush wrote in 2000 that *Inmates should not have access
to personal data about individuals,* and he phased out jobs allowing Texas inmates
access to personal information. (Source: May 25, 2000 letter from Governor George
- Congress*s General Accounting Office (GAO) found that as of
1998, of about 1.2 million inmates, approximately 1,400 inmates in Bureau of Prison and 19
state prison systems had access to personal information through correctional
industry work programs. (Source: GAO/GGD-99-146, Inmates* Access to Personal
Information, August 1999).
- Public opposition to Prison-based Telemarketing is very
In April 2002 Colorado legislators, including the bill*s original House sponsor,
killed a proposal to allow PBT for magazine subscriptions after outraged Colorado
called the governor*s office. (Source: Denver Post, Arthur Kane, *Complaints
Torpedo prison telemarketing,* April 11, 2002).
- Prisoner recidivism is rising. In June 2002, the U.S.
Justice released the first major study of recidivism in over a decade. The report
examined 272,111 former inmates in 15 states during the first three years after their
report found that 67% of inmates released from state prisons in 1994 committed at
serious new crime within three years, a 5% increase over inmates released in 1983.
want a criminal to telemarket a residence when that criminal is more than likely to
commit another crime?
- Identity Theft is Rising. The GAO reported in Feb. 2002
FTC Clearinghouse responded to an average of 445 calls per week in Nov. 1999. By
2001 the average was 2,000 calls/week, and by Dec. 2001, the weekly avg. was about
- The GAO wrote: *Identity theft can cause substantial harm to
lives of individual citizens - potentially severe emotional or other non-monetary
well as economic harm. Even though financial institutions may not hold victims
for fraudulent debts, victims nonetheless often feel *personally violated* and have
spending significant amounts of time trying to resolve the problems caused by
identity theft - problems such as bounced checks, loan denials, credit card
rejections, and debt collection harassment,* GAO-02-424T, Identity Theft: Available
Data Indicate Growth in Prevalence & Cost (www.gao.gov/new.itmes/d0242t.pdf).
- Prison-Based Telemarketing is a breeding ground for Identity
Theft. Even if prisoners are prevented from having personal information, and are
subject to monitoring and other restrictions (like not being allowed to take notes), as
as they get out of prison, they can immediately get a telemarketing job which will not
have these restrictions. And even in PBT programs with close monitoring, taping
of inmate calls, selective hiring, security checks at the exits, the abuses still
occurred. Prisoners now discuss ID theft in prisons as a less risky and less
alternative to other crimes. (Source: a national privacy expert speaking to
attorneys in June 2002).
- There are many better jobs for prisoners besides
Telemarketing is not just reviled by an overwhelming majority of the public, but is a
defined by repeated and often nasty rejection, not exactly the kind of confidence and
esteem-building work prisoners need. Besides telemarketing, Utah prisoners* work
well-paying technically complex jobs, clothing manufacturing, copying historical
files, and computer repair. (Prison Legal News, December 2001, Roger Hummel,
*Telemarketing and Computer Programs Crash at Utah Prison,* page 1). The GAO*s 1999
report (p. 3) distinguished manufacture of license plates, wood products and
textiles, office and administrative work, food service, laundry, building maintenance,
farming/agriculture, and work on roads and parks from work such as data entry, where
inmates were most often allowed access to personal information. This author has
an informational video describing the invaluable role played by prisoners in helping
maintain Independence Pass, an important road through the mountains near Aspen,
CO, where erosion and falling rocks are a regular and real danger without needed
- States should be certified in the federal Prison Industry
Enhancement (PIE) Program. Federal law prohibits state prisons from selling their
products in interstate commerce unless they are certified by a federal program known as
PIE. By failing to get certification, states may preclude opportunities for certain
prisoners, and may unconsciously look towards telemarketing as an easy fix to fill the gap
for prison jobs.
PRISON-BASED TELEMARKETING SHOULD BE
BANNED, FOR ALL IN-BOUND AND
This article can be re-printed freely with appropriate credit to the author,
Michael C. Worsham.