JPay, the Apple of the U.S. Prison System
From 1990 to 2010, the number of inmates in U.S. state or federal prisons more than doubled to 1.54 million, according to a June report by the Pew Center on the States. Benefiting from that surge are corrections contractors such as JPay. The Miami-based company handles money transfers, e-mail communications, and video visitations (all of which are monitored by corrections officers) for more than 1 million prisoners in about 35 states. Last year, JPay, which has 200 employees, began marketing its own line of “prison-proof” MP3 players. “We’re looking for products that an inmate would want to buy and a corrections facility would accept,” says Chief Executive Officer Ryan Shapiro, who started the business in 2001 after working in marketing at a New York tech startup. “Music was a no-brainer because inmates don’t have enough music, and they all love music.”
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