A Florida detainee sues after an exchange of contractors has prevented prisoners from accessing millions of dollars of their own music. As reported by The Florida Times-UnionWilliam Demler brought a class action suit against the FDOC (Florida Prison Service Department), falsely promised to allow inmates to purchase music permanently through a digital media provider, and then to prohibit signing a more lucrative contract.
Demler's complaint concerns Florida's digital music player program, which allows inmates to purchase a specially-designed media player at $ 99 or $ 119, and then purchase individual songs or audio books at $ 1.70 each. . The complaint alleges that the prisons strongly announced the program, managed by the sub-contractor Access Corrections, with promises that inmates could keep songs forever. Between 2011 and 2017, the prisoners spent about $ 11.3 million to buy a total of 6.7 million files, and Demler himself spent about $ 569 for the purchase of music, plus more of the same. 39, money for the reader himself.
But in 2018, the FDOC moved to a new company called JPay, which did not honor previous purchases. The agency has asked inmates to exchange their music players for new multimedia tablets or pay $ 25 and have readers send to a person outside the prison. (They could also pay to ship a CD containing the music.)
Demler's complaint claims that the FDOC has deployed the JPay tablet system – and forces inmates to return their old media players – "to achieve even higher profit margins." As a result, he "effectively stole millions of dollars worth of music and digital books from prisoners in his custody. Times-Union note that apart from the music program, JPay has helped the FDOC to earn millions of dollars on commissions for money transfers, video calls and other services, which are often provided at a considerably inflated cost. The FDOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Access and JPay have been described as "iTunes of the prison world", offering MP3 files that replace older media storage formats. But as with similar services outside of prison, these systems have blurred the meaning of "owning" songs – while serving a base of users with little money and few other options for music.
In 2016, Michigan inmates commenced antitrust litigation against another prison-based MP3 company, which required them to purchase a second media player if they wanted to listen to songs after they were released from jail. This complaint was rejected in 2017. This time, the complaint alleges that the FDOC effectively confiscates private property without due process, in violation of the fifth and fourteenth amendments. If certified by a judge, Demler's case could involve any Florida inmate who has spent money on songs they can no longer play.