View Full Version : Prison / Jail telephone conversations - what not to say

09-16-2003, 09:12 PM
I see messages here and there about not discussing things on the telephone and instead talking at visitation. What kind of repercussions can talking about things over the phone have? Is every conversation listened to, either live or later recorded? What kinds of things should be avoided?

09-16-2003, 10:59 PM
Well, you don't want to say anything about escape, even jokingly. And venting about the prison or prison staff isn't good. I personally wouldn't discuss anything about his crime, either. If you keep it just general everyday stuff, I think you're okay. Even at visitation you can't be really totally relaxed about what you say because you can still be overheard. There's no need to be paranoid, but just never forget that there's nothing private for someone in prison, and when you touch into their world, nothing is private for you, either.

09-17-2003, 05:53 AM
my son's girlfriend is in jail and we were having just a general conversation about how the jail sucked...not exactly the hilton...any way she was maybe going to be a trustee...and when it came time the ??person in charge?? said she had been heard from the monitered phone call saying bad stuff and he didn't like that so then they sent her back to max...

09-17-2003, 06:12 AM
Every phone call is recorded - and I mean every phone call. Some are listened to live, the rest are listened to later. I cannot say whether or not every phone call is listened to or not, I do know that the BOP have staff employed that do nothing other than listen to phone conversations.

So you should always keep that in the back of your mind. Big brother is always listening. Always.

09-17-2003, 07:00 AM
When Shawn and I talk on the phone, it is usually for an hour. During every conversation, there is at least one period (sometimes several) when I can tell the call is being recorded. He says he can't hear anything different, but on my end, there is a series of "clicks", and then I can hear my own voice echoing in a hollow manner inside the phone...then there are more "clicks", and the echo stops.

At times, we are talking so intimately, I forget about Big Brother, and say something I shouldn' that point, Shawn says "Honeyyyy" in a certain way, and I realize that we have to change the subject.

I hate the KDOC.

Susan in Providence

09-17-2003, 07:26 AM
My husband lost his visitation priveleges for talking bout something on the phone. Just good common sense should help you to stay out of trouble.

09-17-2003, 07:33 AM
That just goes to show how the BOP can selectively punish people. I have listened in on some telephone conversations (three-way, which is a big no-no) and heard directives being given out about running businesses etc (another big no-no) and not in "prison-speak" either. These people haven't had any repercussions. But, yes, EVERY call is recorded.

09-17-2003, 10:27 AM
Are you talking about running illegal businesses or is there some rule about talking about running legitimate businesses? Can you talk about legitimate financial investments? Zelda

09-17-2003, 10:30 AM
That clicking and hearing your voice echo isn't the prison recording. That's a fluke with long distance calls in general. Happens to me all the time.

As for talking business and investments, I don't think I'd do that. They can make something out of nothing and you wouldn't want something innocent to be blown into something it wasn't. They could even say you were trying to talk in code or something.

09-17-2003, 01:27 PM
While we're talking about phones...what about those phones in the detention center's visitation room? I can only visit through the glass, and my husband says there's no way those can be recorded. I think otherwise. Do you think they're recorded? There's no sign stating that visitors can be recorded...but this is prison, so I wouldn't think they'd need one.

09-17-2003, 03:17 PM
Originally posted by toi_ama
That clicking and hearing your voice echo isn't the prison recording. That's a fluke with long distance calls in general. Happens to me all the time.

Actually, Toi...I believe it's due to recording, and not lack of call quality.

A few years back, my ex and I had this same phone line tapped...we were being harrassed by someone from his past. The jerk (an old friend of my ex) also lived in this city, so long-distance was not an issue. The detective gave us data sheets which showed the precise dates/times the line was being recorded. The times matched up exactly (I kept notes for my own interest) to when I heard the very same "clicking" and "echoing" sounds as I do when Shawn and I talk.

However, I don't doubt that prison calls are among the lowest of technical least half a dozen times, we've gotten disconnected for no reason, and I've had to argue with SW Bell for a credit. Damn.

Susan in Providence

09-17-2003, 05:36 PM

There is a rule on not running a business from the prison, ANY kind of business, legit or not. That is reason to have the phone privilages suspended.

The only two RULES the BOP has on the phones are not conducting a business and three way calling, (and of course you should not threaten anyone either, but there is no acutal rule on that). That said, we have been repeatedly cut off for adult language. I called the warden over that, and he had someone listen to some of our phone calls, then he called me back and told me, "yeah, you are right. someone is cutting you off when they hear certain language, and while there is no rule prohibiting that language, it just depends on who's monitoring the calls. some officers find that offensive, some don't. but this IS federal prison, so deal with it".

Hey, I respected his honesty. He knew it wasn't right, but it was also something he wasn't going to try and correct. At least he did not try to feed me a line of s**t. Who could ask for more?

One time my husband asked me for some football scores and I gave them to him. When we hung up, they immeadiatly took him to the LT's office and stripped searched him. They said we were gambling, he said, you better listen again because all she did was give me the scores and I can see them on tv when the news comes on. Pain in the a**. But I don't give him scores anymore.

Also, once while we were talking they disconnected us and took him to the LT's office. Said we were three-waying and he was going to the hole. My husband told them to listen to the tape again because it wasn't us. They did, and discovered it was the guy using the phone next to him. They got the other guy, put him in the hole, and took his phone for six months.

The phones are a privilege, and I am grateful for them, yet they can make it challenging to try and maintain a healthy relationship when you know everything is being recorded.

As to the phones for the non-contact visits, yes they are recorded too, and no, they don't have to post signs about them.

I have to admit in the past I have gone off over the BOP several times on the phone, and I mean OFF. Funny thing is, they never cut those calls off. Guess they just wanted to be sure to get every word down correctly. I have always hoped it was one of those c/o's who find the cussing offensive, because I can cuss with the best of them :)

09-17-2003, 05:54 PM
There was a great big flap here in Oregon a few years ago because an inmate's call at visitation with a priest or someone was recorded, so I know they can record those calls.

09-17-2003, 06:01 PM
Last year Robert had put me on his phone list as his mom so we could have phone contact when we were not supposed to. (The camp program he was in did not allow phone calls to people other then immediate family) A few weeks later they called him in and had the recorded phone tapes in their hands. They wrote him an infraction and it said that he was overheard calling me "pookie" and etc on the phone. Not something you would normally call your mom. So, we got busted. Stupid on our parts defintely. So, yes, they do record, they do listen, and they do act.

09-17-2003, 06:09 PM
Yeah, don't talk business at all. You are not allowed to have control over any business. You can however make recommendations, I believe on stock purchases. "I hear these stocks are really good and selling all day long for so-n-so amount of money". "Well, if that was my business, I would fire that guy, buy this and that and even give that employee a raise".. ;)

09-17-2003, 07:02 PM
We just stick to the basics--how was your day, what did you have for dinner, did you get mail, etc. Very boring--but for us--the daily call is just to let each other know we're okay. We don't want to take any chances--so we are very conservative--visits are to important.

Take care,

09-17-2003, 11:04 PM
I didn't know they could complain or get them in trouble for 'adult language'.

09-18-2003, 08:18 PM
my man n i was talking once on the phone about something another inmate had made ( a picture frame from potato chip bags) and he had bought n sent to me and he hushed me up i found out later that he could have really gone in some poop if they knew he had bought that and so would the guy he bought it off of. u gots to think careful even the stuff that seems petty n fright ante in there

09-19-2003, 10:30 AM
I know when I was in Alderson every phone was was monitored. A friend of mine got into big trouble for telling her daughter what to do about a tennant who was renting from them. That's considered running a business. Another friend got into trouble because her daughter told her she was bringing her a letter to read at her next visit. Even though Sandy told her she could not do that, a CO confronted her and accused her of trying to sneak in contraband via her daughter. When I was in state prison in WV the calls did not seem to be monitored as closely. But the BOP has staff that is either listening to the calls live or the tapes of the calls. An inmate has no privacy in prison, and unfortunately that extends to their friends and family and loved ones!

09-21-2003, 09:47 PM
Originally posted by greyghost
I do know that the BOP have staff employed that do nothing other than listen to phone conversations.

I knew it!!! My boyfriend and I joke about that whenever we talk about sex or anything that makes us have too much fun, or anything important or sentimental, the 2 and 1 minute clicks always go off.

He was complaining about someone having a chip on their shoulder (on the phone) and he got questioned later on and accused of trying to start a riot (?????). Mind you, he did not metion anyone's name, nor indicate that he was doing anything such as fighting. I don't get it, he was just venting.


09-21-2003, 11:08 PM
My husband's former celly was shipped out of his institution for a recorded phone conversation. His girlfriend worked with a woman who was engaged to a prison officer. They were gossiping about them on the phone (indicating the women had low morals and wasn't faithful to her fiancee) and he was shipped out 48 hours later in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! I don't have anything to hide in our phone conversations, but it is important to remember they are taped, they have the power and you cannot be comfortable.

09-21-2003, 11:30 PM
I wouldn't limit your conversation to "the weather" but you always should keep in mind what you are talking about and how a CO would take it.. It's easy to become comfortable and feel you are all alone with your loved one, but there is a good chance you are not. This is not always the case, but you have to stay on guard.
The new ITS-II phone system allows for recording and archiving of phone conversations, keyword and voice recognition where it notifies those who have the capability to listen in on the calls, etc.. It is much more advanced than previous phone systems used by the Feds and others.

ITS-II system:

09-22-2003, 04:39 AM

Like I said, there is no rule governing the use of "adult language" on the phones, but if they so choose they can cut you off for any reason or no resaon at all.

It's the same with the dress code. Many times I would be let in three, even four times wearing a certain dress, skirt, or pants, then suddenly someone would decide that they did not think I should wear that outfit. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

That got to the point where I used to take picutres of us that were taken with me wearing a certain outfit just to prove I had worn it before. I was so used to getting stopped at the desk I used to just tell them to have the LT. waiting for me in the mornings :) As with the phone calls, it all depends on who's working.

I have also had a couple of adult letters held up. One was held up for five days before he got it, and no, it wasn't the post office, it was postmarked the day I mailed it. I honestly believe they passed that one around. I even wrote a poem once and put that incident in it.

Always remember, they are the BOP, they (think) they are GOD, and just like GOD, and Santa Clause, they are always watching and listening!

11-01-2003, 05:55 PM
The calls are listened too and no, you will not be able to tell. Don't mention drugs, gambling, fighting, and threats or escapes. Unfortunately, people do use the phones for these things and they ruin it for everyone else.

11-01-2003, 06:04 PM
Yeah, in WV, it's illegal to tape a conversation unless both parties agree. I never agreed to let them tape me and the recording that comes on before I accept his call, doesn't say anything about the phone being recorded or monitored. So it's illegal to do that, but, hey, I guess the feds are above the law, huh? They can do what they want.

11-01-2003, 08:40 PM
got a question mught of goofed today and its on this subject so... my man is getting ready to be transfered to yankton for the RDAp program so we have been extra careful about every detail cause we dont want this to mess up cause it is the only way to get time shaved off his sentance any who today on the phone i was bitchen that i got something in the mail from the IRS for him that he did not pay his taxes in 1997 and that he owes like 4,000 and im all sayen i cant beleve you did not pay your taxes and stuff... now im afraid that i may screw up his transfer cause we had to go through so many channels of shit making sure all his state fines were payed and no warrents were issues blah blah blah...maybe im just fretting, but i regret even bringing it up now to him. sometimes i forget that im being monitered. do you all think i may have got him in trouble with that?

11-02-2003, 04:13 PM
:( i don't know but I sure hope not for his sake. I guess only time will tell on this one... mentioning it again to try to find out will only add to the problem.

11-02-2003, 07:06 PM
Judges can, and do, order the BOP to allow the conducting of legitimate business via the phone, visits, and mails; the theory being that the business income can pay restitution and fines and keep the inmate's family off welfare. We had one guy allowed to use the phone during the daytime, when the phones were normally off limits, so as not to tie it up at night when there was always a line of men waiting. If you are bored sometime, go to the BOP and check out the specifics in the Program Statement.

The Visiting phones can be monitored and taped. Take a look at the Biography Channel's piece on John Gotti.

Prisons are exempt from most privacy and electronic monitoring laws.

The higher the security level of the institution, the larger the chance the call will be monitored or the tape listened to later. Most CO's hate the duty as after awhile it's boring work for them.

Just FYI.

11-03-2003, 06:29 PM
You didn't mess anything up for him. On the off chance that it was overheard, things would move to slowly to affect anything. With the recording, as any inmate what is posted next to the phones and he should be able to see the blue square that says something to the effect of "all conversations made on these phones are subject to monitoring and recording and by using them you give you consent to do so." When you receive a call and it says this call is from a federal inmate...and you are consenting also.

11-03-2003, 08:08 PM
JD...are you an employee in a federal institution?

11-03-2003, 08:20 PM
As for the letters, it's the same. Once, I wrote my man a letter and I wrote something about the co's there are a**holes, anyway the following three letters I sent him ccame back to me stamped, unknown. I checked the zip, his name and id number, I had it right, I had copied the envelope and mailed it to him. It stoped. Ever since, I don't bash the co's in my letters or I won't do it by phone.

11-04-2003, 04:19 PM
Yes, I am. I found this site while looking things up for my cousin who had to do some time. I joined the PTO because I see that it is a great place for people to get together and pass out information. I wanted to be able to make sure that the right information was getting passed out. I also wanted to break the myth that all the Officers are racist, power-hungry c***suckers whose only goal is to f**k with the inmates. I have been doing this for almost 5 years now and would be more than happy to answere any questions that anyone has.

11-04-2003, 05:06 PM
Well...I think it is great! We get many mix emotions when speaking of CO's in general ofcourse people tend to talk more about the bad verses the good. But having you around will be a great asset!
I am glad you are here! I am sure I will have something to ask you. I believe you could shed light that sometimes we just don't see. It is a totally different world we live in....
thanks for offering to answer questions!


11-04-2003, 05:08 PM
OK....if I am not getting to you actually work with the inmates or in other areas?

If its to personall....I do understand!

See....sometimes I think quick! lol


11-04-2003, 06:45 PM
Diane, I work with the inmates. I always have and will do so for some time. It's me and 167 other guys. 155 of them who could care less who I am...they see only the uniform....and they don't like it. Now you can see where the different opinions and views come into play.

11-04-2003, 06:55 PM
Another question....but I promise I will not go on tonight! I really must take a break from this screen! And write! lol

Case workers and Unit Managers....I have only had experience with 2 sets. Complete opposites!
On the first ones...they answered any wuetion or concern I had no matter how "stupid" it may have sounded. They always tried to assist without overstepping the boundries.
We all have boundries to follow in employment...
Ofcourse this second set...imagine the darker side.

How is the best way to work with these folks to be able to gain any knowledge of things they could speak of....or assist in finding the answers. I understand information is confidential...but is there anything they are allowed to share?
Just in general....nots specifics.

Can you shed some light? I promise...thats all for tonight!


11-04-2003, 08:11 PM
Diane, I would really have to know what it is exactaly that you are trying to find out. In my institution, the Case manager is responsible for the case load of say 160 inmates...for an average. They deal with program reviews, points, transfer requests and things like that. With almost every inmate doing some kind of case work the case managers are unbelievable bogged down. I will say that 90% of them will work their hardest to get the things done that they are supposed to do. When they reach this point they usually leave the units or their offices,(anywhere where the inmates can not get to them), for some privacy to try and get this done. The flip side of this is...if the inmates can not physically see them...they are not there...they are not working...forget them. Now, they jump the chain and go to the Unit Manager.

The unit manager does just what the title suggests. She has to manage up to 320 inmates and EVERYTHING going on with them. She also has to make sure, that no matter how experienced her staff is, that everything is done correctally in a timely maner. They have no time, at all. Even the scheduled meetings with the inmates slow things down but are necessary to do. Kind of a nasty chain.

Here is my advice. Contact the unit manager if you have a death in the family or you suspect(have proof)that someone is being abused, or you think there are legal infractions taking place. Other than that...leave them alone. Let the one inside the institution correspond with them.

For the case managers...I suggest pretty much the same. Do feel free to call with honest questions though. The one that is inside will know who to direct what questions to. I have to stress that nothing happens quickly...and with the current population you can see why. The amount of paperwork is sickning and is required by policy for effectiveness and to protect against lawsuits. Just because you have not heard an answer as quickly as you might want to have does not mean that is actively being worked on. Serious cases are always moved to the top of the priority list and the institution has guidelines as to what counts as would be supprised.

Hope that is of some help.

11-04-2003, 10:39 PM
Hi JD,

Thank you for the view from the inside. The prison system is full of assumptions that exist bewtween the inmates/loved ones vs. the staff. Sometimes I just wish it were clear that most of us only want to see and support our loved ones, not further the efforts that got them in there to begin with. It's such a constant struggle when all of these checks and balances seem to create such a hostile environment. I have come across my share of good people who are decent CO's and they have an understanding about their job. And then I have met the one's with the god-complex who seemingly get off by making people miserable for no real reason. I believe that with real consistency and fairness the BOP can still accomplish their mission to maintain safety without creating such an antagonistic environment.

Would you happen to have any information, published or unpublished about the ion testing machine? There doesn't seem to be any information about this technology on the BOP website.

Thanks for your input and info. Very helpful.


11-07-2003, 05:01 AM
Thanks JD....

01-27-2006, 08:19 PM
Does anyone know anything about the phones @ Yankton, FPC?

01-28-2006, 07:58 PM
So what can they do if they find out your calling three way? My hubby is in county waiting for fed sent.

01-28-2006, 08:27 PM
If you are found breaking any of the phone rules, you can be denied all phone privileges, lose good conduct time....just don't risk it.

02-08-2006, 05:55 PM
My g/f has been put in jail for a probation violation and she keeps calling me to talk. But her P.O said that she was not to have any contact with me, Is it possible for the P.O to ask the jail if he coud listen to the convo's she had(not that we talk about anything bad, but she is to have no contact with me)? I know they record calls, but could he find out that she was talking to me directly? thank you for your help

02-08-2006, 10:04 PM
Yes, the P.O. could find out.

07-11-2006, 10:35 PM
I have a question about the discussing business on the phone. My husband had his own business prior to going in and there are still alot of loose ends that need to be dealt with. Is it only certain business conversations or are we able to discuss what items to sale or keep? Just curious since some of this has already been metioned on the phone without any problems....YET

07-12-2006, 07:20 PM
Technically ANY discussion about business could buy you some trouble. If possible it might be better to discuss these topics at visits. If not, do not be surprised if at some point your conversation draws some scrutiny.

Keep the Faith

Michael :thumbsup:

donovans wife
07-12-2006, 08:45 PM
well thanks for the info thats helpfull i have said alot of thigs on the phone i wish i hadnt now lol shoot!!!

07-13-2006, 12:15 AM
What about instances in which an inmate needs to instruct a family member who's handling their finances to pay or not pay certain inmate's bills and expenses so the inmate doesn't ruin credit, get sued, etc??? I mean, any number of issues can come up totally unexpectedly, and without the inmate's knowledge and directive, could be disastrous. I mean, why have to needlessly deal with something when the inmate's released that could have been altogether avoided?

In the instance where a relevent, time sensitive or discreet business issue needs to be discussed/dealt with, why not have the communication set up through an attorney as "legal mail" or "non-monitored attorney call" where monitoring of these legal communications are prohibited??? That can get expensive, but worth it to avoid "shots" from the COs. Perhaps have an attorney set up ahead of surrender time to deal with this on an on-call customized basis???

07-13-2006, 11:09 AM
I have spoken with others that have done FPC time, what they did was put someone from there company on there visitor list so that they can come in person to discuss business.

07-13-2006, 11:13 AM
From what i have read you may ask for permission to discuss Major business decisions that can not be made by the person that you have designated to run your business in your absence.

07-13-2006, 01:23 PM
I have spoken with others that have done FPC time, what they did was put someone from there company on there visitor list so that they can come in person to discuss business.

For issues that come up almost daily, that mean someone would have to visit every week then. That would be logistically impossible and too expensive. For things like paying bills (not doing business deals), can't that be handled over the phone without a problem?

07-13-2006, 08:59 PM

Technically ANY discussion about business could buy you some trouble. If possible it might be better to discuss these topics at visits. If not, do not be surprised if at some point your conversation draws some scrutiny.

I realize any of us here can come up with a million and one common sense case scenarios to justify this infraction of the rules, but this is the policy. Sorry. Just because we don't like it doesn't mean it will change or be over looked.

Keep the Faith

Michael :thumbsup:

07-13-2006, 09:10 PM
Hello sorry to bother, but what is PM?

07-13-2006, 09:55 PM
PM stands for Private Message. If you "click" on the user name in the upper left corner of each post you will be given a list of options from viewing that user's profile to sending them a PM.

In fact I will send this message to you in a PM so you can see how it works.

Keep the Faith

Michael :thumbsup:

07-13-2006, 11:46 PM
Ironic post to pop up at this time, my man is looking at 6 months of no phone for "illegal activity over the phone." He called me and told me about what the write up was for BUT I dont know what we ever said....but now reading this post it could have been anything. I guess I will know more when I go visit, but I would be VERY VERY careful what u say. Last visit I was there one of the CO's said to him that the *** number you call huh?? referring to my area code and I guess the CO told him the previous quarter before he has worked on the phones and heard ALL of our calls and joked about how we have such "interesting" calls....I guess referring to the ummm hot and heavy ones. The CO said a few more comments and then my man called me and told me how the CO said that to me, since I had told my man during our visit that I thought it was weird that CO was looking at me soo much and being exceptionally nice. Anyways, my man called me after the visit and told me what he said and I was like WOW and made some smart a** comment about how I hope they love listenening to all of our calls and the next day we were asked to sit at the front of the room for visiting then 3 days later he got served the papers for no phone. Moral of the very careful cuz they record EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING

07-14-2006, 09:54 AM
Just use common sense. But just in case, NEVER mention anything about...

1. escape
2. riot
3. strike

Or anything related to your crime (for many reasons).

I did 2 years for hacking back in 1993 and got wrote up because I was talking about computers. ohh... and don't let other people use your conversation, attempt 3ways, or forward messages.

07-14-2006, 11:57 AM
My husband's father died and, as an heir to the estate, there were a lot of decisions he had to make as the estate went through probate. He wrote a cop-out to his unit counselor IN ADVANCE and explained the need to discuss these matters over the phone and in visits with me and to receive financial documents, real estate documents, etc. The counselor approved it. So if there is a particular need, it might be wise to just inform the unit counselor, in writing, to cover yourselves. Z.