Are Phone Calls from Jail Private?


While counties handle incoming and outgoing calls from jail inmates differently, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice publicly advises all participants in phone calls with prisoners that they may monitor and record all phone calls. Most jail phone calls start with an immediate warning that law enforcement may monitor or record their conversations. The only exceptions to this general rule are for those conversations between inmates and lawyers, which are subject to the attorney-client privilege. As a result, prisons and jails may not record privileged telephone conversations, as doing so is a violation of inmates’ 6th Amendment rights.

In recent years, many jails have come under fire for automatically recording inmate phone calls, including those with defense attorneys. Before the automation of these recordings, jail officers could manually disconnect the recording system when the attorney-client privilege was at issue. With technological advances, however, the recording systems automatically exclude specific numbers in a database of lawyers. When inmates spoke with lawyers whose numbers weren’t in the database, however, some jails have recorded these conversations improperly, including in Dallas.

Are Phone Calls From Jail Private?

The bottom line is that you never should assume that your phone call with jail or prison inmates, regardless of what party initiated the phone call, is private or confidential. In most cases, there is a very high probability that either law enforcement authorities actively are monitoring calls or are recording them for further review. As such, individuals should avoid any conversation that relates to criminal charges or any aspect of the criminal case. Otherwise, you risk giving law enforcement authorities evidence to use against you in your case or evidence supporting new or additional criminal charges against you. Our Texas criminal defense lawyers are here to offer you the experienced legal representation and advice that you need to resolve your criminal law matter. We can act as your guide through the criminal justice system to obtain the relief that you are seeking. Call our office today and learn about the type of assistance we can offer you.

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