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Tyler Acquires VendEngine, Maker of Jail and Prison Software

Tyler is buying up a company that provides a range of corrections technology, including commissary management and video visits. Especially during the pandemic, it’s made tools like emails and texts free to inmates.

Prison bars with hands
Tyler Technologies has acquired VendEngine, a company that provides video visitation, commissary management and other technology tools to jails and prisons.

The $84 million deal, which Tyler expects to close in the third quarter, brings in a company operating in a space Tyler already occupies; Tyler Corrections offers a variety of jail operation software and serves more than 200 jailing agencies, according to the company’s website.

VendEngine’s footprint is larger, however: According to a press release, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company serves more than 300 agencies in the U.S. and Caribbean. The company’s software is often used to provide free tools to inmates, such as video visits, emails, texts, medical requests and education. Communication is often notoriously expensive for the incarcerated, a paradigm that can serve to isolate inmates from their families and support systems.

The company started an emergency program during the COVID-19 pandemic to make more of those communications free. That program will run through the end of the year.

“We are confident that Tyler is the perfect match for VendEngine,” said Silas Deane, president and CEO of VendEngine, in the statement. “Importantly, Tyler shares our core values of integrity, focus, community, inclusion, growth, and accountability, with a deep commitment to their clients and each other. We look forward to accelerating our growth in partnership with Tyler as we advance our goals of making a positive impact on the corrections market, supporting incarcerated individuals toward success and reducing national recidivism rates.”

Tyler Technologies is well-practiced in such acquisitions. Its local government footprint — probably the largest of any pure-play gov tech company in the U.S. — is largely the result of mergers that brought it into verticals ranging from land use to public safety to education. It recently closed the acquisition of NIC, another of the biggest gov tech companies with a more substantial presence in state government.