BREAKING: After a raucous hearing, the state Public Service Commission changed a proposal to cut the rates charged for all prison phone calls by 25 percent to an order that lowered the costs for calls to family, clergy, government officials... All unauthorized charges will be removed. The order is effective immediately but actual rates would not drop until the end of existing contracts or two years. - The Advocate
Because of your action the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LaPSC) has voted to reduce the cost of phone calls from prisoners. Without your voice millions of dollars would have continued to come out of the pockets of families trying to stay in touch with their loved ones.
Commissioner Campbell said it best: “Reducing the excessive cost of telephone calls between inmates and their families will reduce crime, lower Louisiana’s incarceration burden and right a moral wrong.”
Answering the call of such organizations as Capital Area ReEntry in Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Interchurch Conference Committee on Criminal Justice the Commission took a step forward for LA families. A coalition of clergy and prisoner support groups from across the state had called on the Commission to cut the cost of telephone calls between prisoners and their families.
“It is not politically popular with the law enforcement people,” PSC Commissioner Jimmy Field, of Baton Rouge, said. “But this is the right thing to do scripturally … We need to be responsible because we ultimately answer to God, not men.”
“States across the country have been dealing with this issue for decades,” said Linda G. Fjeldsjo, coordinator of prison ministry at Catholic Charities.
“This is a great day for the families with loved ones inside the jails and prisons of Louisiana,” says Norris Henderson of VOTE NOLA, a local, grassroots membership-based organization founded and run by formerly incarcerated persons in partnership with allied groups. “I want to thank the members of the Commission who put their constituents first. For me this has been a struggle for over 37 years.”
LaPSC Commissioners Foster Campbell and Jimmy Field in particular have led the in-state charge to reduce the phone rates that prisoners’ families are forced to pay. Their efforts come after a LaPSC study found that venders are required to pay up to 55% of gross revenues to sheriff’s offices and the state – creating a major incentive for both the state and Global Tel*Link, the prison phone provider, to ramp up pricing for prison phone calls.
With this vote, Louisiana becomes the ninth state to regulate the cost of in-state prison phone calls. All eyes now turn to the FCC, as public attention focuses on that federal agency to establish benchmark rates that lower the cost of interstate phone calls made by prisoners to their families.
A growing legion of diverse groups across the country has come together to push for capping the cost of prison phone calls.