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Mar 31

Justice Department has been unlawfully recording visits between prisoners and their defense lawyers

One of the most fundamental rights of a prisoner is the right to have candid attorney/client visits protected by the attorney/client privilege.

Jails and prisons assure defense lawyers that their visits with inmates will be unrecorded. Lawyers and prisoners commonly wonder (only half-jokingly) if prison facilities are secretly recording their visits. (As the courts have virtually collapsed as protectors of defendants from the government.)

Now it has been revealed that federal prison facilities at Leavenworth, Kansas–along with the U.S. Justice Department–have been recording and monitoring the visits of federal inmates with their defense lawyers.

Federal prosecutors have thus been able to know defense strategy, sabotage defenses, and otherwise wrongly convict dozens or hundreds of inmates. (The DOJ denies using the recordings for that purpose.)

See this story from a Topeka newspaper (which is quite favorable to the government).

See also this more balanced report by the Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast story reveals that CoreCivic and Securus—the two companies providing inmate phone service at the prison (at exorbitant prices)–have been accused of violating inmates’ constitutional rights at other institutions. Someone hacked Securus in 2015 and released 70,000 recordings to The Intercept, which found some 14,000 attorney-client conversations in the database.