February 10, 2020

In 2019, Securus Technologies® launched Securus Connects, a continuing campaign focusing on a video series on securusconnects.com. The stories highlight how Securus’ communications services build stronger connections among family, friends, incarcerated individuals and facilities. In order to make our site more interactive, we encourage our users to send us their feedback on our products. Vilma Bell from Tampa, Florida is one of our customers who wrote us to share her personal experience on how our technology is having a positive impact on her family.

“Without your service I would not be able to speak to my son,” her note stated.

Bell agreed to do a phone interview. Her son is Jeffery Bell Jr., who is an incarcerated individual at the Marion Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida. She says the drive is more than an hour and a half from her home in Tampa Palms.

“It’s difficult for me to make the trip to see my son, but your phone service keeps him going,” she said.

She adds that the phone communication is very convenient for her, her grandchild as well as her son’s fiancé, so all three can enjoy talking to her son at the same time.

Her son and his fiancé also rely on eMessaging for additional communication. This digital tool, which serves over 500,000 incarcerated individuals and their family and friends, improves staff efficiency by transmitting communication electronically. The security of inbound and outbound communication is controlled by facility staff. Additionally, family and friends can stay connected to incarcerated loved ones anytime, anywhere.

“It keeps my son in communication with the family and keeps him stable. He has a seven-year old son, and they both need to stay connected,” Bell stated. “My son needs to make sure that the family is alright.”

She stresses that the family members speak every day and knows that support is important to help her son prepare for reentry.

“I really think without the daily calls that he would feel null and void, that no one cared.”

Studies show that residents who keep in touch with loved ones are more likely to succeed after release. Marion Correctional Institution provides Securus complimentary community tablets for incarcerated individuals to offer them opportunities to improve their lives. Residents get free access to critical content such as education, eBooks, job search, mental health programming, professional development and religion.

Bell acknowledges that her son has some unique challenges including that he is mobility-impaired, but she is very proud of him for working hard to change his life for the better, despite adversity.

“I like that he is preparing for the future to support his family. We all make mistakes. We’re still people,” she said.

Bell states that although her son already earned his GED, his record has been lost, so he is taking GED prep classes on the tablets. Additionally, he is using the community tablets to learn how to write a resume, develop new job skills and is participating in Bible classes.

She says nothing could make her happier than knowing that her son is preparing himself to support his family, upon release, and that he will be reunited with his loved ones again.

“Family is very important. That is what I raised him up to believe. Just because he is away doesn’t mean he doesn’t have support,” Bell concluded.