Title:
Systems and Methods for Transaction and Information Management
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Systems or methods for managing transactions within a controlled environment facility provide an information management engine integrating transaction functionality for establishing an account associated with a resident of the controlled environment facility, and use the information management engine to conduct transactions associated with residents of the controlled environment facility. The transactions include at least distant deposits into the account by a party outside of the controlled environment facility. The systems or methods accept requests from the resident and facilitate the request for deposit. The systems or methods may place calls to the individuals outside the controlled environment facility or to interact with the individual. During such calls a deposit request may be made and the deposit accepted.



Inventors:
Rodgers, Michael D. (Lewisville, TX, US)
Richards, Mikel (Keller, TX, US)
Rosenfield, Stuart (Plano, TX, US)
Falcone, Richard (Addison, TX, US)
Viola, John J. (Keller, TX, US)
Johnson, Lee R. (Plano, TX, US)
Keiser, Luke (Frisco, TX, US)
Application Number:
15/291897
Publication Date:
04/06/2017
Filing Date:
10/12/2016
Assignee:
Securus Technologies, Inc. (Dallas, TX, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G06Q20/10; G06Q20/16; H04M3/20; H04M3/493
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NILFOROUSH, MOHAMMAD A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Fogarty LLP (P.O. Box 703695 Dallas TX 75370-3695)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: receiving, by an automated transaction processing system, an indication by a resident of a controlled environment facility that said resident wishes to request a deposit from a party outside said controlled access facility into an account maintained for the benefit of said resident; verifying, by said automated transaction processing system, identification data for said resident; obtaining from said resident, by said automated transaction processing system, contact information for the outside party; communicating, by said automated transaction processing system, said request to said outside party using said contact information; accepting, by said automated transaction processing system, an indication as to whether said party wishes to make said deposit to said account; receiving, by said automated transaction processing system, said deposit; and crediting, by said automated transaction processing system, at least a portion of said deposit to said account.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein said contact information is an email address.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein said communicating further comprises emailing said request to said outside at said email address.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein said email contains a link to a webpage.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein said accepting further comprises accepting said indication via said webpage and said receiving further comprises processing said deposit via said webpage.

6. The method of claim 4 wherein said processing further comprises processing payment made by at least one of: an online check authorization; a credit card; and an online payment system.

7. The method of claim 1 further comprising: notifying said resident of said crediting.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein said notifying further comprises interrupting a phone call placed by said resident to notify the resident of said crediting.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein said phone call placed by said resident is a first phone call placed by said resident following said crediting.

10. The method of claim 7 wherein said notifying further comprises calling said resident to provide notification of said crediting.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein said notifying further comprises connecting said outside party with said resident as a part of said notification.

12. The method of claim 10 wherein said notifying further comprises connecting said outside party with said resident following said notification.

13. A method comprising: receiving by an automated transaction processing system an indication by a resident of a controlled environment facility that said resident wishes to request a deposit from a party outside said controlled access facility into a transaction account maintained by said transaction processing system for said resident; verifying identification data for said resident; obtaining from said resident a telephone number of a the outside party; placing an outbound call by said automated transaction processing system to said outside party; and communicating said request to said outside party and offering services associated with said automated transaction processing system to said outside party following the communication of said request, during said outbound call.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein said services comprise at least one of: establishing a business relationship between a host to said transaction processing system and said outside party when no business relationship between said host to said transaction and said outside party is currently in place; establishing a direct billing account between said host and said outside party; establishing a prepaid account between said host and said outside party; prepaid phone cards for use by said resident; phone minutes for use by said resident; and an exchange of phone related information for at least one of said resident and said outside party.

15. The method of claim 13 further comprising: notifying said resident of crediting of a deposit received from said outside party.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein said notifying further comprises interrupting a phone call placed by said resident to notify the resident of said crediting.

17. The method of claim 16 wherein said phone call placed by said resident is a first phone call placed by said resident following said crediting.

18. The method of claim 15 wherein said notifying further comprises calling said resident to provide notification of said crediting.

19. The method of claim 15 wherein said notifying further comprises connecting said outside party with said resident as a part of said notification.

20. The method of claim 15 wherein said notifying further comprises connecting said outside party with said resident following said notification.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/338,868, also entitled “Systems and Methods for Transaction and Information Management,” filed Jan. 24, 2006, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/836,976, also entitled “Systems and Methods for Transaction and Information Management,” filed Apr. 30, 2004, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/602,233 entitled “Systems and Methods for Transaction and Information Management,” filed Jun. 24, 2003, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference. The present application is also related to co-pending and commonly assigned U.S. patent applications Ser. No. 10/135,878 entitled “Information Management and Movement System and Method,” filed Apr. 29, 2002, Ser. No. 10/135,883 entitled “Optimizing Profitability in Business Transactions,” filed Apr. 29, 2002, Ser. No. 10/360,248 entitled “System and Method for Account Establishment and Transaction Management Using Interrupt Messaging,” filed Feb. 7, 2003, Ser. No. 10/360,442 entitled “Systems and Methods for Transaction Authorization Determination,” filed Feb. 7, 2003, and Ser. No. 10/640,505, entitled “Called Party Controlled Message Delivery,” filed Aug. 13, 2003, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is generally related to transaction systems, and more particularly, to systems and methods utilizing information communication systems for facilitating deposits into and interaction with transaction systems.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In a controlled environment, such as within a prison or jail facility, controlling access, information, interaction, and/or transactions is often of particular interest. In a prison facility in particular, safety and security is of paramount importance and, therefore, the primary responsibility of the personnel thereof is to effectively implement controls with respect to the residents (inmates). However, such controlled environments often provide an environment much like a small city in which a number of individuals work and live, thus requiring various goods and/or services associated with civilized society. Accordingly, various exchanges of information, money, goods, etcetera may be performed in association with individuals of a controlled environment, both within the controlled environment and external thereto. For example, an inmate residing in a prison facility may be provided medical services, such as dispensing of prescription medications. An inmate may also be allowed to place phone calls to friends and family outside of the prison facility. Likewise, an inmate may be allowed to purchase commissary items, such as through use of a prepaid trust-like account.

Administering the aforementioned exchanges of information, money, goods, etcetera typically requires the time and efforts of the staff of the controlled environment facility and/or individuals associated with various service providers thereto. For example, prison and/or commissary personnel may be required to accept payments directly from visitors or receive mail including payments, identify the individual resident for which the funds are intended, access an account associated with the individual resident, and increment the balance thereof. Each such task requires time away from prison personnel's primary tasks associated with the operation of the controlled environment facility and/or increases the costs associated with a service provider serving that population. Moreover, such tasks as accomplished today are typically largely paper based and require appreciable manual processing, thereby further aggravating the directing of personnel's attention away from tasks more primary to the operation of the controlled environment facility and further adding to the costs.

FIG. 1 illustrates a typical commissary process flow. In addition to issues with respect to taking time and attention away from tasks of primary importance, the aforementioned exchanges may present safety and other issues. For example, increased contact between prison personnel and inmates can increase the danger to the prison personnel, thus interaction associated with collection of monies by prison personnel for deposit in inmate accounts can expose such personnel to claims of theft of such monies. Accordingly, inefficiencies exist with respect to the businesses and individuals conducting such exchanges associated with controlled environment facilities.

Typically, non-residents, such as friends and family can deposit money into a trust account maintained for the benefit of a resident. The resident may typically use such deposited funds for commissary purchases, to pay for telephone use, to pay for healthcare, to pay pay-for-stay charges, and/or the like. Typically, funds are deposited by such non-residents when the non-residents, such as the aforementioned friends and family, are onsite, at the facility. These deposits are typically made in cash and in person, at a central location, such as a cashier's window, manned by facility personnel. Traveling to a facility to make such a deposit is very inconvenient for the non-residents. Maintaining one or more cashier's windows is costly to the facility. Problematically goods and service providers for residents of controlled access environment facilities typically do not extend operations, such as the gathering of funds for resident trust accounts, outside of the “four walls” of the facility, whether such providers are the facility itself or an outside contractor or the like.

Oftentimes, personal contact with the resident such as during a visit will prompt a non-resident to make such a deposit. Problematically, if the non-resident is not prepared with the cash necessary, a deposit cannot be made at that time. Furthermore, the impetus to make a deposit following personal contact may be lessened with time and the desire to make a deposit may fade once a friend or family member leaves the facility. Presently, the only alternatives to actually traveling to the facility to make such deposits is to mail or wire money to the facility. This is also time consuming, inconvenient, and in the case of a wire transfer, costly.

Furthermore, it is typically somewhat impractical for a resident of a controlled environment facility to request account deposits from third parties, as the resident's ability to communicate with parties outside of the facility are typically restricted. Nevertheless, interaction with a resident during a phone call may motivate a non-resident to make a deposit in a resident's trust account. However, making such a deposit requires action outside the home or place of work, such as traveling to the facility to make a cash deposit, or traveling to an outside location to make a wire transfer, or to obtain certified funds in the form of a cashiers check or money order to mail to the facility. Thus, individuals external to a controlled environment facility, which conduct exchanges therewith are often less than satisfied with the experience. Additionally, the depositing party may not be provided with any confirmation of the monies received further exacerbating the non-residents lack of satisfaction. From a practical standpoint the resident may not be provided any sort of notice of the deposit. The resident may only learn of a deposit through a change in his account balance when he next inquires about the balance from a commissary representative or other personnel.

Some facilities may only have commissary or similar services available on certain days and/or at certain times during which a resident may order commissary goods or similar services. Typically, under the systems and methods in place a resident must wait for a commissary representative such as a “cart lady,” to actually come around to the resident to receive orders. This may be the only opportunity for the resident to inquire about his/her balance. Problematically, if the balance is too low to make a purchase nothing can be done under existing systems and methods to facilitate funding of the account to expedite a purchase. Thus, if the resident's account is low on funds and the resident cannot afford to make a desired, or necessary, purchase, the resident must wait until at least the next ordering cycle to make a purchase. Typically, a commissary system that relies on manual orders and the like operates almost exclusively within the facility. In other words, such a traditional commissary provider does not have an ability to go outside the four walls of the facility to secure additional funds. Typically, such manual ordering commissary providers do not employ phone based ordering systems or the like.

SUMMARY

The present invention is directed to systems and methods, which utilize information communication systems for transaction and information management. According to embodiments of the invention, an automated information management engine is provided enabling and facilitating the direct deposit of funds into accounts, securely and conveniently, by third parties. These third (outside) parties may include family members of a resident, friends of a resident, entities or accounts established to provide funds for the use by indigent residents, and/or the like. Accounts or entities established to provide funds for the use by indigent residents might be financed, in whole or part, by profits from the associated commissary system, or the like. Embodiments of the present invention are particularly useful with respect to transactions and information management associated with controlled environment facilities, such as inmate facilities (e.g., municipal jails, county jails, state prisons, federal prisons, military stockades, juvenile facilities, and detention camps), hospitals, nursing homes, camps, schools, and the like. Further, the present invention may be used by other controlled environment facilities as well, particularly those that have commissary or “store” facilities and where residents do not generally have much cash on their person. For example, the present systems and methods may facilitate third party deposits in a resident's commissary account in situations where a party that may not wish to become responsible for the resident's account may be willing to make deposits into the account, from time to time, particularly at the behest of the resident. Preferably, the depositing party may make deposits in accordance with embodiments of the present invention in a number of ways, such as by the use of credit or debit cards, check by phone, direct billing to a telephone number, or the like.

The present invention provides enhancements to systems and methods for direct deposit of funds into an account maintained for the benefit of a resident of a controlled environment facility. These funds may be deposited into the account, which may be in the form of a trust account or the like, for commissary or other use by the resident. Preferably, the present systems and methods facilitate the acquisition of such deposits by providing various mechanisms that will enhance or supplement a resident's ability to request funds from a benefactor.

Unlike existing account funding scenarios discussed above, the present systems and methods foster immediate “gratification” on the part of the depositor and the resident. The present invention addresses a desire to provide immediate gratification to a resident by communicating a need for a deposit to the one or more a friends or family members of the resident, so a friend or family member can deposit money into the resident's commissary account on a “real time” basis, enhancing customer satisfaction and revenue potential for a commissary and/or facility operator. Particularly, the present invention provides for enabling a resident to request a deposit from a third party in a more immediate manner, such as at the time when need for such a deposit is discovered by the resident. Additionally, the present systems and methods preferably enable a requested party to more readily make deposits for the benefit of the resident. Advantageously, the present systems and methods make depositing funds in a resident account more convenient through the use of automated processes and easing the process for the end user depositor. The aforementioned “immediate gratification” might result not only through the present invention enabling the deposit of money immediately upon a request by a resident, but may also result from the deposit posting to the resident's account immediately enabling the resident to make purchases in relatively short order. The present invention also preferably makes the experience of depositing funds in a resident's account as personal as possible. For example, personal contact from the resident as a part of the deposit request process may make the experience more positive for the depositor.

A further advantage of the present invention is that it enables a resident to circumvent the ordering cycle discussed above. Since, in accordance with the present invention, deposits are more readily credited, a resident will not necessarily need to wait for an ordering cycle to place an order. This further enhances the aforementioned satisfaction and provides greater revenues for the facility, commissary operator, or the like. Thus, in an incarceration environment, the present invention may be used to utilize friends and family members of the inmates to more effectively create revenue for the facility and associated vendors.

Embodiments of the present invention provide information that residents and end users, such as friends and family members did not previously have available. Further gratification for friends and family member depositors may be archived by relieving costs associated with making deposits to resident accounts. For example, fees associated with wire transfers and the like may be significantly more than any fees that may be charged in conjunction with then present invention, which may be subsidized and/or absorbed by vendors. In accordance with embodiments of the present invention friends and family may be enabled to make deposits and a resident may be enabled to make deposits even if the resident does not have phone ordering of commissary available to him/her. Also, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention the resident is preferably notified of a received deposit the next time the resident makes use of the facility phone system to place an outside phone call.

Thus, embodiments of the present invention may operate to facilitate replenishment of account balances, such as by invoking interrupt messaging to solicit funds as a minimum threshold amount is reached or whenever the opportunity arises. For example, embodiments of the present invention may contact a party designated with respect to the account to solicit funds when an account balance drops below a certain level, whereby an outbound message, e.g., a phone call, electronic mail message, etcetera, may be sent by the controlled environment information management system to one or more friend or family member designated to solicit deposit of funds upon detection of a minimum threshold amount. Additionally or alternatively, the controlled environment information management system may set a flag with respect to the account balance condition such that, the next time the responsible party is called by the user, interrupt messaging is invoked to solicit funds from the responsible party during the call in an “oh, by the way” manner. Further, such a solicitation may be made at anytime a call is placed to any, or particular outside parties by the resident, or at any time contact is made with an outside party, such as when a calling account is set up such discussed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/360,248 entitled “System and Method for Account Establishment and Transaction Management Using Interrupt Messaging,” filed Feb. 7, 2003, or such as during the delivery of a message in accordance with the systems and methods disclosed in and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/640,505, entitled “Called Party Controlled Message Delivery,” filed Aug. 13, 2003, both of which are incorporated herein by reference above.

Thus, in accordance with the present systems and methods a benefactor may be contacted, or asked in an “oh, by the way” manner to ask that the benefactor deposit funds directly into the resident's account. Preferably, this contact is carried out in an automated manner using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology or the like. Thus, embodiments of the present invention provide for direct interaction with users, whether individuals residing within a controlled environment facility or individuals residing outside of the controlled environment facility, for transaction and information management using an intuitive interface, such as may implement voice and/or dual tone multiple frequency (DTMF) input. Interactive systems of embodiments of the present invention provide voice response, voice recognition, and/or other information communication to provide prompting to users, to accept user input and queries, to respond to queries, to confirm transactions, to provide account information, etcetera. Accordingly, interaction for conducting transaction and information management is substantially automated and integrated. Interaction by users according to embodiments of the present invention includes various authorization and/or verification techniques. For example, voice print technology, finger print scanning, iris scanning, personal identification numbers (PINs), special codes, social security numbers, driver's license numbers and/or the like may be implemented to affirmatively identify individuals for conducting transactions. Authorization and/or verification according to preferred embodiments may be implemented to insure the identity of resident making a request. Authorization and/or verification according to preferred embodiments may also be implemented with respect to users residing outside of a controlled environment facility. For example, embodiments of the present invention may implement account deposit authorization with respect to a prison facility to provide control with respect to individuals who may deposit funds with respect to particular inmates.

At least one embodiment of the present invention utilizes a telephony system, and/or other information communication system, having access terminals disposed within a controlled environment facility for use by residents thereof. Such access terminals may comprise general-purpose user terminals, such as telephones, computer systems, personal digital assistants, etcetera, and/or special purpose user terminals, such as kiosks, automatic teller machines (ATMs), etcetera. Such special purpose user terminals may accept deposits of cash or credit/debit card cash transfers from a resident into a commissary account, such as from an inmate at the time of booking. The present systems and methods may also make use of a terminal, kiosk, or the like disposed in a facility, such as in a visitation area of a jail or prison, entry foyer of a nursing home, a nurse's station of a hospital floor, or the like, to accept deposits, including cash deposits, from visiting parties, such as may be requested by a resident during a visit.

An inmate in a prison facility may utilize a telephone system adapted according to the present invention to perform such functions as ordering items, such as commissary items, medical items, and library books, for himself or others (even individuals residing outside of the prison), inquire as to the status of ordered goods and services, inquire as to an account balance available to the inmate, place phone calls, including prepaid and collect calls, receive information about court dates or other appointments, receive special messages, announcements, and special offers, and/or the like. Embodiments of the present invention may be integrated with various aspects of transaction and information management such as disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/602,233 entitled “Systems and Methods for Transaction and Information Management,” incorporated by reference above. For example, prepaid account management, collect calling services, commissary services, and account funding are all integrated according to embodiments of the present invention, to thereby facilitate seamless user interaction for account deposit, account status inquiry, commissary ordering, and collect calling. Embodiments utilize information technology already present in a controlled environment facility, such as a local area network, an intranet, the Internet, etcetera, to provide communication and interaction with third party suppliers and users desiring their goods and/or services.

In some facilities, the telephony system and/or other information communication system may not be used for facilitating commissary orders or other activities, such as described above. In such a circumstance, embodiments of the present invention facilitate the request of a deposit, either by a resident or in the aforementioned “oh, by the way” manner, by interfacing the telephony, and/or other information communication system of the facility with an administration manager functionality, which might be located in outside of the resident's facility.

It should be appreciated that preferred embodiments of the present invention substantially decrease costs associated with transactions, such as by taking paper and personnel out of the process as well as relieving need to collect for purchases after the goods or services are delivered. Accordingly, embodiments of the present invention deployed with respect to a controlled environment facility facilitate reallocation of man hours to achieve more value from personnel by allowing more time for such personnel to be engaged in tasks primary to the operation of the controlled environment facility. Moreover, security issues in particular situations, such as the aforementioned prison facility environment, may be decreased, e.g., interaction by prison facility and/or other third party service personnel with inmates may be decreased thereby diminishing opportunity for security breaches. Likewise, primary aspects of a controlled environment facility, such as security in a prison facility, may be increased according to embodiments of the present invention using authorizations and checks and balances provided by system automation and integration.

The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the features and technical advantages of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood. Additional features and advantages of the invention will be described hereinafter which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and specific embodiment disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims. The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the invention, both as to its organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages will be better understood from the following description when considered in connection with the accompanying figures. It is to be expressly understood, however, that each of the figures is provided for the purpose of illustration and description only and is not intended as a definition of the limits of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 shows an implementation of typical prior art commissary service;

FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of a controlled environment information management system deployed according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 shows detail with respect to aspects of the controlled environment information management system of FIG. 2 according to embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 4 shows detail with respect to aspects of the controlled environment information management system of FIG. 2 according to other embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a flow chart of an embodiment of the present methods enabling requesting and making deposits by third parties.

FIG. 6 is a flowchart of an embodiment of the present methods for offering phone related services as a part of a distant deposit request message to an outside party;

FIG. 7 is a flowchart of an embodiment of the present methods for presenting a distant deposit request to an outside party following an interrupt message to establish a business relationship with the outside party;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart of an embodiment of the present methods for presenting a distant deposit request to an outside party following provisioning of a paid for message from a resident; and

FIG. 9 is a flowchart of an embodiment of the present methods for automated distant deposits.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Directing attention to FIG. 2, controlled environment information management system 210 adapted to employ an embodiment of the present invention is shown. System 210 provides transaction and information management within and associated with controlled environment facility 200. Although illustrated as being deployed within the controlled environment facility in FIG. 2, it should be appreciated that controlled environment information management systems of the present invention may be deployed in a number of configurations. For example, embodiments of the present invention provide an information management system deployed external to the controlled environment facility and having data terminals and/or other access points deployed within the controlled environment facility. Additionally or alternatively, information management systems may be provided in a distributed topology, such as having server systems, application programs, and/or databases distributed throughout a number of geographic locals, according to embodiments of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 2, controlled environment information management system 210 may provide a number of access points coupled to a variety of user terminal equipment configurations. User terminal equipment utilized according to preferred embodiments of the present invention may include personal computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), pagers, telephones (wireline and wireless), facsimile machines, kiosks, and the like, coupled through direct links, such as wireline, cable, fiber optic, or the like, and/or indirect links, such as network links (e.g., local area networks (LANs), metropolitan area networks (MANs), wide area networks (WANs), intranets, extranets, the Internet, cellular networks, the public switched telephone network (PSTN), and/or the like), private branch exchange (PBX) links, or the like. Accordingly, information management system 210 of the illustrated embodiment provides connectivity to user terminals 222-1 through 222-M disposed within controlled environment facility 200 via direct connections, user terminals 221-1 through 221-N disposed within controlled environment facility 200 via indirect connections (here comprising a network or networks, referred to herein as network 220), and user terminals 231-1 through 231-P disposed external to controlled environment facility 200 via indirect connections (here comprising XML connections and/or a network or networks, referred to herein as network 230). It should be appreciated that information communication links utilized according to the present invention are not limited to wireline links and, therefore, may utilize wireless, optical, and/or other information communication links.

In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, controlled environment information management system 210 is adapted to include intelligence/management functionality 211 and transaction/commerce functionality 212. Preferably, intelligence/management functionality 211 provides for collection, storage, and movement of information for managing various operational aspects of the controlled environment facility, including the management of personnel, residents, vendors, and resources. Transaction/commerce functionality 212 preferably provides for the instigation and completion of various transactions, including requesting and providing goods and services, determining credit worthiness, verifying account balance and status, providing for payment, and providing for deposits such as direct deposit functionality 213. The aforementioned functionalities of information management system 210 are preferably provided at any distance and at any time.

The controlled environment facility information management engine may notify the resident of any deposit made, such as by interfacing with call functionality, such as an IVR or the like, to call the resident to provide notification of the deposit or interrupting a phone call placed by the resident to notify the resident of the deposit, such as a first phone call placed by the resident following the deposit.

It should be appreciated that, although intelligent/management functionality 211 and transaction/commerce functionality 212 are shown in FIG. 2 disposed in controlled environment information management system 210, various structural and/or functional aspects of these components may be provided by different entities and/or may be disposed inside of and outside of controlled environment facility 200. Multiple systems, whether disposed remotely, locally, or combinations thereof, may be utilized in implementing the aforementioned controlled environment information management system 210.

Directing attention to FIG. 3, detail with respect to an exemplary deployment of an embodiment of the present invention is shown. As shown in FIG. 2, controlled environment information management system 210 provides transaction and information management and connectivity with respect to a plurality of entities. For example, individuals disposed within controlled environment facility 200, such as residents of controlled environment facility 200 having access to resident room 311 (such as may comprise a hospital room, prison cell, camp cabin, common use room, etcetera), are provided access to controlled environment information management system 210 for interaction therewith, such as via telephone 221-2. Additionally, in the embodiment of FIG. 3, individuals disposed in controlled environment facility 200, such as controlled environment personnel having access to administrative office 312 (such as may comprise a patient information station, a doctor's office, a general administration office, a guard station, etcetera), are provided access to controlled environment information management system 210 for interaction therewith, such as via computer 222-1. Computer, ATM or kiosk 222-1 or a similar service terminal may be located in a portion the facility such as in a visitation room or lobby area. Individuals disposed outside of controlled environment facility 200, such as friends and family residing at residence 321 are provided access to controlled environment information management system 210 for interaction therewith, such as via computer 231-1 and/or telephone 231-2. Additionally, in the embodiment of FIG. 3, individuals disposed outside of controlled environment facility 200 are provided access to controlled environment information management system 210 for interaction therewith at locations 322 through 324, such as may be associated with various businesses, service providers, and/or the like, such as via any of terminals 231-1 through 231-P. Controlled environment related business services providers 231, such as telephony service providers, commissary goods and services providers, health care providers, etcetera, as may be disposed in and/or outside of controlled environment facility 200 may be provided access to controlled environment information management system 210 for interaction therewith, such as via any of terminals 221-1 through 221-N, 222-1 through 222-M, and/or 231-1 through 231-P.

It should be appreciated that, although particular embodiments of user terminals have been shown or referenced above with respect to particular individuals and/or locations, the present invention is not limited to the use of any particular user terminal configuration or configurations with respect to individuals and/or locations. For example, administration office 312 may additionally or alternatively include telephones for providing interaction with controlled environment information management system 210. Furthermore the user terminal may take the form of kiosks or automated equipment capable of taking deposits, similar to an automated teller machine. Moreover, there is no limitation according to the present invention with respect to the number of user terminals which may be provided with respect to an individual and/or location.

It should further be appreciated that, although particular individuals and/or locations have been shown or referenced above for interaction with controlled environment information management system 210, the present invention is not limited to the individuals and/or locations of the exemplary embodiment. For example, embodiments of the invention may provide connectivity for interaction between a plurality of controlled environment facilities, if desired.

According to a preferred embodiment, controlled environment information management system 210 is deployed in association with a prison facility. In operation according to an exemplary embodiment wherein controlled environment facility 200 is a prison facility, an inmate may pick up a phone, such as telephone 221-2, and communicate information to controlled environment information management system 210 to access limited information and/or conduct certain proscribed transactions. Controlled environment information management system 210 may take that information, or some portion thereof, and communicate it to an inmate related business service provider, such as controlled environment related business services provider 331. This entity may, responsive to such information, provide a product or service to the inmate. For example, particular authorized goods may be delivered to the prisoner within controlled environment facility 200. Additionally or alternatively, services, such as medical care or telephony services may be provided to the inmate.

The aforementioned resident's use of controlled environment information management system 210 is not limited to transactions for the acquisition of goods and/or services. In accordance with the present invention a resident may utilize the aforementioned phone or terminal to place a request through environment information management system 210 that a third party be requested to deposit funds in his commissary account.

According to preferred embodiments, account balances are maintained for individuals using controlled environment information management system 210, which may be utilized in paying for the aforementioned goods and services. The illustrated embodiment, for example, includes account balance database 301 of transaction/commerce functionality 212. Account balance database 301 may comprise prepaid account balances and/or post paid account balances and is preferably utilized with respect to various transactions conducted using controlled environment information management system 210. For example, payment for goods ordered by a prisoner or friends and family may be made by a transfer of credit value from controlled environment information management system 210 to controlled environment related business services provider 331, such as using statement system 302.

Funds may be provided to account balance database 301 in a number of ways, such as various means of deposit by friends and family of an inmate. For example, friends and family may deposit funds into the system via such techniques as sending a money order or a cashier's check via the mail or bringing cash into the prison at the time of visitation for entry into the system, such as by administration office 312. However, to facilitate the deposit of such funds, preferred embodiments provide for indirect, remote, and/or electronic deposit, such as via locations 322 through 324, electronic payment system 325, and payment lockbox 326, such as shown and described in the above referenced patent application entitled “Information Management and Movement System and Method.” Electronic payments may be made using a credit card, check conversion, or electronic funds transfer, for example, via electronic payment system 325, such as may comprise the Internet or a telephony system. Additionally or alternatively, a payment lockbox or lockboxes, such as payment lockbox 326, may be provided in association with controlled environment information management system 210 to accept payment, such as in the form of cash, check, money order, credit card, electronic fund transfer, etcetera. Such locations and/or payment techniques may be more convenient to such individuals and thereby facilitate their depositing funds into controlled environment information management system 210.

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic illustration of automated device 400 which may be used for management of a commissary account or the like associated with a resident of a controlled environment facility. Device 400 may act as an access terminal and be disposed within the controlled environment facility for use by residents thereof. Device 400 may comprise a general-purpose user terminals, such as a computer system or a special purpose user terminals, such as a kiosk, an ATM, or the like. Device 400 may also be disposed in a visitation or administrative area of a jail or prison, entry foyer of a nursing home, a nurse's station of a hospital floor, or the like, to accept deposits from visiting parties, such as may be requested by a resident during a visit. Device 400 may also accept deposits of cash or credit/debit card cash transfers from a resident into a commissary account, such as from an inmate at the time of booking

The illustrated embodiment of device 400 comprises interface 401, which may interface device 400 with a controlled environment facility information management engine that manages transaction functionality and provides for the establishment and maintenance of accounts associated with residents of the controlled environment facility, such as controlled environment facility information management system 210, discussed above. Device 400 may further employ an input mechanism 402 for conducting transactions by the resident and/or other parties. These transactions may include a resident requesting a deposit into the account by a party outside of the controlled environment facility or a visiting party making a deposit into an account of a resident. Input mechanism 402 may be used by a resident to provide contact information for the outside party as a part of requesting a deposit from the outside party. This contact information may take the form of an email address or a telephone or pager number. Device 400 might also include bill accepter 403 and/or credit/debit card reader 404. Bill accepter 403 and/or card reader 404 may be used to facilitate the aforementioned deposits into a commissary account by visitors and/or to accept deposits of cash or credit/debit card cash transfers from a resident, such as from an inmate at the time of booking.

A request made by the resident may be provided to the controlled environment facility information management engine and the controlled environment facility information management engine may verify identification data for the resident in processing the request. Device 400 may include various types of functionality for collecting and analyzing data from the resident to provide the verification of a resident's identity, such as apparatus(es) 405 for collecting biometric data, such as voice print data, finger print data, iris print data facial recognition characteristics, or the like. Input mechanism 402 may be used to collect a user supplied identification string, such as a personal identification number, a social security number, birth date, mother's maiden name, a serial number, an inmate number, a drivers license number, a government issued identifier, identification provided via a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag, badge, card, chip or the like. The verification carried out by device 400 and/or the controlled environment facility information management engine might use two or more levels of verification, wherein a first level comprises use of a first type of the biometric data. A second level of verification might make use of a second type of the biometric data or a user supplied identification string.

The controlled environment facility information management engine communicates the request to the outside party using the contact information provided and credits any deposit made by the outside party to the account of the requesting resident. The communication with the outside party may be carried out via email. The email may contain a link to a webpage, which provides a mechanism for accepting an indication that the outside party wishes to make a deposit and a mechanism for accepting and processing the deposit. Preferably, the deposit may be made using an online check authorization, a credit card or an online payment system (such as PAYPAL®).

Embodiments of the present invention may operate to facilitate replenishment of account balances, such as by invoking interrupt messaging to solicit funds as a minimum threshold amount is reached through contacting a designated responsible party with respect to the account, as shown and described in the above referenced patent application entitled “System and Method for Account Establishment and Transaction Management Using Interrupt Messaging.” For example, an outbound message, e.g., a phone call, electronic mail message, etcetera, may be sent by the controlled environment information management system to one or more friend or family member designated to solicit deposit of funds upon detection of a minimum threshold amount. Additionally or alternatively, the controlled environment information management system may set a flag with respect to the account balance condition such that, the next time the responsible party is called by the user, interrupt messaging is invoked to solicit funds from the responsible party during the call. Having described an exemplary deployment of an embodiment of the present systems, attention is directed toward FIGS. 5 through 9, flow diagrams of operation of embodiments 500 through 900 of the present methods for facilitating deposits, such as into transaction system 212, via functionality 213 and/or device 400, is shown.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of an embodiment of a method to enable the requesting and making of deposits by third parties, such as, “distant deposits” made by friends and family members of a resident of a controlled environment facility, that does not have phone ordering of commissary products or the like. Method embodiment 500 comprises receiving an indication by a resident of a controlled environment facility at 501 that the resident wishes to request a deposit from a party outside the controlled access facility into an account maintained for the benefit of the resident. This request may be made to an automated transaction processing system. At 502 identification data may be requested from the resident and verified for the resident. This request for identification data may be made, and the verification, may be carried out by the aforementioned automated transaction processing system. Contact information for the outside party may be obtained from the resident, such as by the automated transaction processing system, at 503. This contact information might include a telephone number, email address and/or the like. The request may then be communicated to the outside party using the contact information at 504. This may be carried out by the automated transaction processing system such as by placing a call, sending a page, sending an email or otherwise contacting the outside party. If the contact at 504 is made via an email the email may contain a link to a webpage, or the like. Alternatively, a contact made by phone or page might also contain a web address or the like where the outside party may go to make a deposit. At 505, an indication as to whether the party wishes to make the deposit to the account may be accepted, such as by the automated transaction processing system. If the outside party wishes to make a deposit the deposit may be received at 506, such as by the automated transaction processing system. When accessing a webpage the outside party may make the indication at 505 be via the webpage, and/or the deposit at 506 may also be made via the webpage. At 507 at least a portion of the deposit is credited to the resident's account. A portion of the received deposit may be paid to an entity practicing the present systems or methods. The deposit may be made via any of a plethora of manners, including an online check authorization, a credit card or through an online payment system. At 508 the resident maybe notified of the deposit/credit to their account. This notification may take the form of interrupting a phone call placed by the resident to notify the resident of the credit/deposit. This phone call may be a first phone call placed by the resident following the crediting at 507. Alternatively or additionally, the resident may be notified at 508 by calling the resident to provide notification of the crediting at 507. During the notification at 508 the outside party who made the deposit may be connected with the resident. Alternatively, such a connection between the outside party and resident may be made following the notification.

In accordance with embodiments of the present systems and methods, offers of phone related services such as prepaid phone cards, phone minutes, exchange of phone related information, and/or the like may be provided as a part of a distant deposit request message to an outside party, such as a resident's friend or family member. FIG. 6 is a flow chart of method embodiment 600 which includes receiving an indication by a resident of a controlled environment facility that the resident wishes to request a deposit from a party outside the controlled access facility into a transaction account maintained by a transaction processing system for the resident at 601. The request at 601 may be made through an automated transaction processing system. Identification data for the resident is received and verified at 602 and at 603 the resident provides a telephone number of the outside party. At 604 an outbound call is placed by the automated transaction processing system to the outside party and at 605 the request is communicated to the outside party. At 606, preferably following completion of the deposit or receiving an indication from the outside party that a deposit will not be forthcoming, services, such as associated with the automated transaction processing system, are preferably offered to the outside party. These services may include establishing a business relationship between a host to the transaction processing system and the outside party when no business relationship between the host to the transaction and the outside party is currently in place; establishing a direct billing account between the host and the outside party; establishing a prepaid account between the host and the outside party; prepaid phone cards for use by the resident; phone minutes for use by the resident; and/or an exchange of phone related information for the resident and/or the outside party. At 608 the resident may be notified of any deposit/credit made to their account. This notification may take the form of interrupting a phone call placed by the resident to notify the resident of the credit/deposit. This phone call may be a first phone call placed by the resident following the crediting of such a deposit. Alternatively or additionally, the resident may be notified at 608 by calling the resident to provide notification of the crediting of a deposit. During the notification at 608 the outside party who made the deposit may be connected with the resident. Alternatively, such a connection between the outside party and resident may be made following the notification at 608.

Additionally, in accordance with the present systems and methods a distant deposit request may be presented to an outside party during an interrupt message, such as a message attempting to establishment of a business relation ship with the outside party. Embodiment 700 of the present methods, flowcharted in FIG. 7, includes identifying initiation of a call via a call processing system from a resident of a controlled environment facility to a party outside the controlled environment facility at step 701. The call may be interrupted at 702, such as by a transaction validation engine, for interaction with at least the outside party. This interaction might include attempting to establish a business relationship between a host to the transaction and the outside party when no business relationship between the host to the transaction and the outside party is currently in place by establishing a direct billing account and/or a prepaid account between the host and the outside party. At 703 the outside party is offered an opportunity to make a deposit into an account maintained for the benefit of the resident placing the initial call. The offer at 703 may be made as a result of the resident's account balance falling below a predetermined threshold and/or as a result of the resident attempting to make a purchase and the purchase being denied for insufficient funds in the resident's account. The Offer at 703 may also identify the goods or services the resident attempted to purchase. At 708 the resident may be notified of any deposit made to their account. This notification may take the form of interrupting a phone call placed by the resident to notify the resident of the deposit. This phone call may be a first phone call placed by the resident following the deposit. Alternatively or additionally, the resident may be notified at 708 by calling the resident to provide notification of the deposit. During the notification at 708 the outside party who made the deposit may be connected with the resident. Alternatively, such a connection between the outside party and resident may be made following the notification.

Additionally, a distant deposit request may be requested following acceptance of a message from a resident. FIG. 8 flow charts embodiment 800 of the present methods, which comprises accepting a communication from a controlled environment facility resident to a party outside the controlled environment facility at a time when an active communication connection from the resident to the outside party is not available at 801. The accepted communication is stored at 802 for later delivery to the outside party. Then at 803 the accepted communication is delivered to the outside party, preferably under control of the outside party and after the outside party has agreed to pay for such delivery. At 804, the outside party is offered an opportunity to make a deposit into an account maintained for the benefit of the resident, preferably after playback of the aforementioned message. At 808 the resident may be notified of any the deposit made to their account. This notification may take the form of interrupting a phone call placed by the resident to notify the resident of the deposit. This phone call may be a first phone call placed by the resident following the deposit. Alternatively or additionally, the resident may be notified at 808 by calling the resident to provide notification of the deposit. During the notification at 808 the outside party who made the deposit may be connected with the resident. Alternatively, such a connection between the outside party and resident may be made following the notification.

In accordance with the present systems and methods a fully automated distant deposit, such as may be provided via a bank draft, credit card charge, or the like may be prearranged by an outside party, such a friend of family member of a resident. This deposit may be based on a proactive trigger, such as prearranged regularity, inmate account balance minimum, or the like. Embodiment 900 of a method of the present systems and methods, as flowcharted in FIG. 9, may include providing an information management engine integrating transaction functionality at 901. Accounts associated with residents of the controlled environment facility may be established at 902. At 903, the information management engine may be used to conduct transactions associated with residents of the controlled environment facility. The transactions may include, among other transactions, an automated deposit, made at generally regular time intervals, into the account by a party outside of the controlled environment facility. Additionally or alternatively, the transactions may include an automated deposit, made when a balance of the account reaches a prearranged minimum threshold. The information management engine may also integrate telephone calling services and embodiment 900 might include utilizing the telephone calling services to facilitate setting up the automated deposits at 90X. A portion of the received deposit may be paid to an entity practicing the present systems or methods. At 908 the resident may be notified of any the deposit made to their account. This notification may take the form of interrupting a phone call placed by the resident to notify the resident of the deposit. This phone call may be a first phone call placed by the resident following the deposit. Alternatively or additionally, the resident may be notified at 908 by calling the resident to provide notification of the deposit. During the notification at 908 the outside party who made the deposit may be connected with the resident. Alternatively, such a connection between the outside party and resident may be made following the notification.

Although the present invention and its advantages have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Moreover, the scope of the present application is not intended to be limited to the particular embodiments of the process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, means, methods and steps described in the specification. As one of ordinary skill in the art will readily appreciate from the disclosure of the present invention, processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps, presently existing or later to be developed that perform substantially the same function or achieve substantially the same result as the corresponding embodiments described herein may be utilized according to the present invention. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to include within their scope such processes, machines, manufacture, compositions of matter, means, methods, or steps.