“We are pleased to take the next step with his appointment as CEO, and excited about his plans for making Aventiv and Securus more accountable, more affordable, more accessible and more attentive to the needs of both customers and consumers,” Mr. Kelln said.
As his first order of business, Mr. Abel announced an ambitious multi-year transformation effort that he said will “acknowledge past criticism, pursue present opportunities and lead future innovation.”
“The role of technology in government and corrections is evolving, and Aventiv and Securus are at the forefront of that evolution,” Mr. Abel said. “The industry is changing, and we intend to embrace it. We will be the change.”
Mr. Abel acknowledged that both the company and the industry have faced criticism in the past over pricing, data security, product innovation and other issues.
He said that under his leadership the companies would seek the proper balance between the needs of customers, the corrections agencies that contract for the companies’ products and services; consumers, the incarcerated individuals and their families who use those products and services; and public policy officials who oversee corrections facilities, their operations and their vendors.
“We have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to address the financial and social needs of the communities we serve, making our services more affordable and accessible while continuing to innovate and help our government partners keep those communities safe and secure,” he said.
Securus has undergone substantial change since being acquired by Platinum Equity, with a major emphasis on eliminating certain past practices, enhancing and expanding others, and transforming from a traditional corrections telecommunications service provider into a broad technology innovator.
Aventiv Technologies launched in October 2019 as part of a corporate reorganization reflective of the company’s progression with distinct business lines for government payments (AllPaid) and corrections services (Securus Technologies and JPay).
“Technology at its best is an engine of change,” said Mr. Kelln of Platinum. “As the owners of Aventiv, we are keenly aware of the calls for change and steadfast in our determination to forge a new way forward.
“To that end, we have asked Dave to take the reins of the entire organization as we jointly execute on an overhaul of the agenda,” he said. “Under his leadership, Aventiv will clearly demonstrate new values, supporting community needs and creating benefit for all stakeholders.”
Building on previous reforms that have already been implemented, Mr. Abel committed to accelerating in 2020 an expansive, holistic reform of corporate policies and practices. The full scope of the program will be announced in the weeks ahead, but Mr. Abel today previewed some of the initiatives that will be included:
1. Accessibility and Affordability
- While Securus has reduced the average cost of calls by 30% over the past 3 years, not all consumers felt the same relief. The company pledges to work with all our institutional customers to broaden rate relief for more consumers by targeting the elimination of legacy outlier rates and reinvesting in the development innovations and tools to further reduce costs.
- In 2019 Securus became the only service provider to announce full neutrality on the presence of site commissions and the provision of products regardless of the funding source and model determined by each locality. The organization will build on that in 2020 by working with all interested institutional customers on implementing these lower-cost-to-consumer alternatives.
- Securus will reduce the application of third-party funding fees by investing in technology solutions where possible — and negotiating lower rates where outside vendors are still required — to provide savings to consumers of at least 35% on these fees by year end.
- Securus will provide a clear and simple recitation of call rates to both customers and consumers, ensuring that those call rates are always available online and at the time of each call before they are accepted.
- The Company will commission an annual report of inmate calling costs, produced and published by an independent third party, including a breakdown of what is being charged beyond the specific cost of the call (for example, additional costs necessary for the provision of safety protocols and service).
- Securus will publish by the middle of this year an industry-leading report detailing a terms-of-use policy for its products, and memorializing comprehensive data privacy standards.
3. Education, Reentry and Recidivism
- Securus will immediately sign the Society for Human Resource Management Getting Talent Back to Work Pledge.
- The Company will contribute at least $3 million in 2020 to efforts focused on reducing recidivism rates and improving reentry rates, including support for The Securus Foundation to connect justice agencies more closely to their communities utilizing technology.
- The Company will create a post-incarceration scholarship program to facilitate the completion of post-secondary degrees begun under Securus’ existing educational product and service opportunities.
4. Listening and Responsiveness
- Mr. Abel and other company executives will meet each quarter with families and individuals personally impacted by incarceration to hear their recommendations and address their concerns about the company’s products and services.
- Company leaders will also meet with corrections facility customers, correctional trade associations and advocates of alternative incarceration approaches to hear their recommendations and hear their concerns.
5. Technology and Innovation
- Securus pledges to invest at least $40 million this year in facility communication infrastructure for the advancement of public safety and community needs.
- The Company will devote at least $30 million to fund innovations in the development of secure products to take on the ever-evolving challenges facing correctional agencies in the new decade.
Mr. Abel joined Securus as President in April of 2019, recruited from outside the industry to bring new ideas and urgency with respect to accelerating and expanding the reform agenda and technology transformation mandated by Platinum Equity. Most of his career has been dedicated to helping governments use technology to improve mission effectiveness and lower costs to taxpayers and consumers.
Prior to joining Aventiv, he founded and ran a business focused on performance improvement and software automation. As an executive at IBM and a partner at PwC, Mr. Abel was responsible for turning around and growing service and software businesses worldwide. While applying technology to some of society’s greatest challenges, he is known for balancing the often competing needs of security, privacy and consumer value.