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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Phone vendor sues after Spokane County picks different provider for jail inmate calls

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 6, 2019, 1:01 p.m.

The Spokane County Jail, shown Thursday, June 28, is a modern building that sits behind the Public Safety Building and the Spokane County Courthouse. Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokane County Jail, shown Thursday, June 28, is a modern building that sits behind the Public Safety Building and the Spokane County Courthouse. Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

zThe company that provides phone service for inmates in Spokane County Jail is suing the county after it chose a new provider, accusing them of bias and not having a fair, competitive process.

The company suing the county, Global Tel Link, has a contract to provide phone service for Spokane County until 2020. Under the contract Spokane County currently has with GTL, Spokane County gets 45% of the revenue GTL receives from inmates and their families when they make calls in exchange for allowing them to operate in jails.

According to court documents, Spokane County was asking for its share of the revenue from inmate phone calls to be a minimum of $175,000 per a year, about what it is currently making from inmate phone calls.

After reviewing applications, Spokane County awarded the exclusive right to operate in jails to another telecommunications company, Securus. The new contract would include phone services, as well as video visitation and tablets for inmates.

GTL, an Idaho-based company, and Securus, a Texas-based company, were among four bidders competing for the county contract.

According to county documents obtained through a public record request, the contract would not have cost Spokane County because inmates and their families pay to use those services, the companies maintain the equipment and Spokane County gets a share of the revenue.

According to the request for proposal, Spokane County uses its share of the money from phone calls for an inmate welfare fund that provides services to “indigent” inmates.

The other bidders not awarded a contract were Edovo and IC Solutions.

The county made its phone service choice by having a committee of tech, county attorney and other employees evaluate and score each proposal.

GTL’s proposal was disqualified, according to court documents, because it was outside of the parameters officials wanted. GTL accused the county of incorrectly reading their proposal and inappropriately disqualifying them.

Jared Webley, a spokesman for the county, said senior deputy prosecutor Ron Arkills is reviewing the suit for a defense strategy. Webley said Arkills is preparing a response to GTL’s claims, but said he couldn’t comment further on pending litigation.

Randy Brown, a spokesman for GTL, said the company does not comment on litigation.

Outside of Spokane County, GTL and the company-selected Securus have sued each other repeatedly over patent infringement, false claims and advertising, according to Securus’ proposal.

This article was corrected on Sept. 6, 2019 to correct the spelling of Securus

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