Liberate Our Pensions
Securus is a predatory correctional telecom company that preys on vulnerable communities, particularly women
Since 2003, Securus has preyed on communities impacted by mass incarceration and surveillance—disproportionately communities of color and poverty—to rake in millions. Securus is a correctional telecom company that charges families and friends as much as $25 for a 15-minute telephone call and $26 for a 40-minute video call with their incarcerated loved ones. While the correctional telecom market is exploitative generally, on average, Securus charges 40% more than its largest competitor in the field. Thanks to these extortionate rates, in 2017, the company extracted over $625 million from directly impacted people, particularly women of color. Eighty-seven percent of those responsible for paying for the cost of phone calls with incarcerated loved ones are women, and the majority report spending as much as one-third of their annual income to maintain contact with their loved ones. In fact, one in three families with an incarcerated family member go into debt due to the cost of calls and visits.
As the owner of Securus, Platinum Equity has sought to expand Securus’ Reach rather than address concerns it was “acutely aware” of when it purchased the company
Platinum Equity, which also owns the Detroit Pistons, bought Securus in 2017 for $1.6 billion. In a 2019 statement, Platinum Equity acknowledged to investors that it was “acutely aware” of the company’s ethically questionable practices. Rather than addressing these concerns, Platinum Equity has sought instead to grow Securus' footprint both organically and through add-on acquisitions.
In an effort to grow Securus, which already owns roughly 40% of the correctional telecom market, Platinum Equity sought to acquire ICSolutions, its last meaningful competitor outside the duopoly it enjoys with Global Tel Link. The acquisition would have been catastrophic for people with incarcerated loved ones, since, on average, Securus charges double what ICSolutions does. After months of challenging the deal at the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), criminal justice advocates were victorious in getting the FCC to rule that the deal was against the public interest and deny the merger application.
Still, criminal justice advocates remain vigilant. Platinum Equity will look for other ways to expand Securus' reach and further extract resources from the economically-distressed communities disproportionately impacted by incarceration and immigration detention.
By investing with Platinum Equity, public pensions are investing taxpayer money in predatory companies and using returns to fund the retirement of public employees
When Platinum Equity purchased Securus in 2017, it did so using the funds of public pensions that invested in the firm's Fund IV. Thanks to Securus' exploitative practices, Platinum Equity and its pension investors have raked in millions at the expense of communities of color and poverty, particularly women of color.
While public pension trustees may have not known that Platinum Equity would use pension funds to purchase such a predatory business, they should have implemented protections that would have prevented the purchase. Public pensions should not be blindly investing taxpayer and public employee retirement money. And now that they know what was done with their funds, they should not trust Platinum Equity with another dollar. Pension funds now have the responsibility to cure the harms caused by their investments.
Ultimately, public pensions should not invest taxpayer money or fund the retirement of their members off the backs of our most vulnerable communities.
Platinum Equity has full control over Securus' operations and must transform the business as it prepares to divest
Unlike shareholders in publicly-traded companies, private equity owners like Platinum Equity typically have full operational control over the companies they invest. At this point, it is not enough for Platinum Equity to simply sell off Securus, an eventual outcome for all private equity investments, though necessary. To even mildly mitigate against the harm caused by Securus, Platinum Equity must exercise the power it has over the company's operations during its ownership to implement meaningful reforms that will change the lives of directly impacted communities and commit to exiting the prison industrial complex for good.